Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Random Chaos (As opposed to formal chaos?)

I like to let my annual and biennial plants wander around in the garden. (The photo shows lime-green Euphorbias -E. characias - and foxgloves - Digitalis purperea. All from seed cast asunder by leaving the flower stalks to mature.)

Nature conceals the pattern of the placement of plants. Each hopeful seedling, each successful mature tree; grows in a haphazard pattern. If we want a truly natural look garden and feel to our constructed garden, we must avoid human constructs. Even attempts at gentle chaos often reveal a noticeable intent. True randomness means letting go.

Here’s a test for planting in a truly random fashion: Take five or more golf balls and throw them up onto the air over the area you want to plant. Where each ball falls is where you plant. The real task is not to move any balls—”oh that one looks so close to that ball”. Untouched balls can mean some very odd combinations—just like the forest or meadow.

We usually buy a plant, look in a book to see how far apart it should be planted, and plant with loving care. The difficulty with the random-balls approach is some patterns require buying more plants than you anticipated. Because several balls are clustered together, the gardener may feel the cost of extra plants is a burden. A forest of meadow has no expense account. Plants sprout, die, and thrive—all at the same time. Thousands of seedlings or plants have died to give birth to the one glorious specimen we appreciate. Such a pattern is within the natural flow of the random sprouting and growth of all natural things. Rejoice in the spontaneity.

Please leave a comment - I'd like to hear what you have to say.

NOTE: Somehow I lost the automatic way to leave a comment. You can click on the "___ Comments button. Or, go to a blog listed under the Blog Archives and click to get the comment box. I hope to figure this out. Robert

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1 comment:

marhawkman said...

Reminds me of something I saw in a magazine. This lady was growing tiger lilies. When she planted them she carefully chose a spot they'd grow well in. Then she left them to their own devices for ten years. After a decade of unhindered growth she found herself with a few more tigerlilies. Not from seed, apparently they budded or something. But the most interesting thing is that eventually they underwent a sort of metamorphosis. Instead of the 50 or so blooms they normally made, they started throwing up a massive flower stalk with around 150 blooms. Why? apparently the flower stalk size was a function of the size of the roots/bulb. Leaving the plants alone for 10 years let them grow totally unhindered. After a decade, they were finally ready to show off. :)