Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Random, Natural Plantings

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 where we see a glorious specimen in nature. Such a pattern is within the natural flow of the random sprouting and growth of all natural things. Rejoice in the spontaneity.

(The manipulated Polaroid print can be found, with others, on my web site

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