Give a landscape time to mature

A gardener learns that a well-designed landscape just needs time to grow and look its best. Continual tinkering doesn't help.

Courtesy of Helen Yoest
In this section of the garden, I'm waiting for the sedum to fill in and become a ground cover.
Courtesy of Helen Yoest
Here I'm waiting for a tree to mature and provide shade and for the row of boxwood to fill in.

As I look around Helen's Haven evaluating what it needs to shine for upcoming garden tours and photo shoots, I realize that all it needs is time.

Most landscapes do.

I donʼt need to add a little something here or there. The design is set. Now I need to wait it out. This is the hardest part.

Nothing I do now will fill the gaps between the sedum, providing a tapestry of ground cover under individual specimen plants in the Red Bed. [See photo at top.]

Nothing I do now will make the boxwood fill in.[See photo at left.] My imagination sees a continuous line of boxwood serving as the repose between the formal and causal -- the boundary demarcating tameness and wildness.

Nothing I do now will leap the rose of sharon into adulthood.

Nothing I do now will mature a tree, providing a canopy for shady rest.

What I can do, has been done. Now, all I really need is time.

The gardener sees the flaws

By many standards, Helen's Haven is full, lush, and mature. It is I who see the holes, flaws, and flubs.

It is not a garden for everyone. No doubt, when someone visits for the first time, high maintenance comes to mind. I can honestly say, though, that Helenʼs Haven is not a high-maintenance garden.

Herein lies the problem. I like to putter in my garden and I run out of things to do, so I start tinkering. My thinking about tinkering is that if I add more, it would serve as a gap filler until the garden matures.

But I really know that this tinkering must stop. All my garden needs now is time.

Donʼt be mistaken; there are many areas of improvement, and, of course, regular maintenance -- deadheading, dividing, pruning. I also need to edit out
earlier tinkerings.

But for the most part, my garden is not high maintenance; something I will appreciate more and more each year.

Would a different design be better?

Oftentimes, I wonder how I would have designed Helen's Haven if the children were not part of the equation or if I had unlimited funds. I begin to dream of a
new garden instead of Helen's Haven matured.

Then reality hits, and I realize this is my garden for here and now; for now and for 10 or more years from now. At the end of the day, this is the garden for me. For it to flourish, all it needs is time.

As I wait for my garden to mature, Iʼll rest in the comfort that weeds defy time as do shrubs that need pruning and grass that needs mowing. There is always
something to be done. But for now, Iʼm done trying to fix what only time can mature.


Helen Yoest lives in North Carolina and writes about Gardening With Confidence. She's a garden writer, speaker, and garden coach. She's also a field editor for Better Homes and Gardens and Country Gardens magazines and serves on the board of advisors for the JC Raulston Arboretum. You can follow Helen on Twitter and Facebook. To read more by Helen here at Diggin' It, click here.

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