In much the same way as the cobbler’s children are often found in want of shoes, this gardener’s garden is beginning to look a little unkempt. I’d prefer to describe it as naturalistic, but I fear I may be pushing the boundaries of what is generally understood when applying that adjective to a style of planting, unless what is generally understood is a state of affairs in which Nature is striding forth with purpose on all fronts to reclaim the garden for her own.
But I’ve decided not to let it stress me; in fact, in an odd way I’m finding it quite refreshing. There was a moment at Chelsea this year when I was admiring the admittedly fantastic planting on the Hilliers stand in the pavilion; it was almost perfect, but I realised that what I really wanted to see – what would just tip it for me from fabulous to the inspired – was a tendril or two of bindweed cheekily peering over the top of a choice perennial, or the tell-tale texture of a dock about to come into flower catching the corner of my eye. I’ll admit that this is probably not a mainstream point of view, but I’ve come to understand that planting that gives a nod to the way nature would do it is where I feel most at home. I can appreciate and even enjoy more manicured styles – when done well, this kind of thing gives me that frisson you get when you realise you’re feeling challenged by being moved out of your comfort zone – but I get a real kick when the hand of the gardener is perhaps less explicit.
Is this just a case of me trying to justify the state of my chaotic garden? Well, possibly it is. What I know for certain is that while I loved Chelsea this year, I was immensely glad to get back home to my own brand of chaos.