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Serendipity and Design

The price one pays for this indulgence is that once something flowers it usually self seeds. Before long the garden's original design becomes blurred...

flower garden in Belgium

Photo: Coy! (flickr)

Nature is a capricious designer so she does unexpected things in our gardens.

Spring bulbs come up pretty much where we have planted them, as long as the rodents don’t eat them. So our spring gardens don’t owe quite so much to serendipity as our summer gardens do.

No matter how carefully we plan for our peak summer display, nature always has some surprises in store for us. Nature is a capricious designer so she does unexpected things in our gardens.

Garden Surprises

She is also lavish, and while we may plant, for example, one bee balm and one black eyed susan, soon we will have dozens.

Birds take seeds all around our gardens so that Nicotinas will pop up in unexpected places, so will crabapple trees, viburnum bushes, cleomes and goldenrod to name a few.

Color combinations may occur when plants pop up unexpectedly. I love color in my garden so I usually leave any volunteers until they have bloomed.

Making A Compromise With Mother Nature

The price one pays for this indulgence is that once something flowers it usually self seeds. Before long the garden’s original design becomes blurred as plants of many sizes and shapes crowd together.

It may be a blaze of color but the original concept of form, shape and symmetry is modified. The extent which we accept serendipity in our own gardens depends on us.

We may decide to live with nature’s interventions or try to control them. Most of us compromise depending on our time schedule and tolerance for changes in our own design.

Moya Andrews

, originally from Queensland, Australia, served as Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculties at Indiana University until 2004. In the same year, Moya began hosting Focus on Flowers for WFIU. In addition, Moya does interviews for Profiles, is a member of the Bloomington Hospital Board, and authored Perennials Short and Tall from Indiana University Press.

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  • Rita Barsun

    Thank you very much for this particular broadcast. You can’t imagine how much it encouraged me since I, too, am finding my efforts at planning overhauled by good old serendipity. Thanks to you, I’ll relax a bit now as I view the chaos.

    Thank you also for another broadcast, the one in which you mentioned ripping out a whole bed of perennials. That too, is becoming part of my gardening pattern. (sigh)

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