Monday, January 12, 2015

A Few Things I Know

Every winter articles and posts abound about how to make this new year a better year and you a better person. But I bet you're fine just the way you are. The longer I garden, the more I learn about myself. I'm sure my posts and garden speak enough about me to keep a therapist busy for years but who cares. I like what I see.


I am as systematic as I am artistic.


I apologized. To a plant. Don't waste time analyzing this. You'll just torture yourself. 

I take notes of what needs to be done in the garden and spend a lot of time observing and analyzing the problem before making any big changes. Usually. However, I have been known to just rip things out and once on a very bad day yelled at a clematis for being the wrong color. I find charts and lists as comforting as piles of art supplies and books. 

I prefer curved lines to straight.


July 2014
Last fall I removed more grass, extended the rain garden and redesigned this area a bit.

My garden curves inward like an embrace to snug around an elliptical lawn, a shape I find comforting. I told someone once that my garden was designed like a hug and they looked at me like I had squid coming out my ears. Whatever. It makes sense to me and that's all that matters. Whenever I see plants imprisoned behind stiff little hedges, I have to fight the urge to cut an escape route and start yelling, "Run, Forest! Run!"

I like full, fluffy shrubs with a natural shape rather than linear, erect ones or little green meatballs. 


Despite having deep appreciation for this shape, I don't want a garden full of them.



Prague viburnums in early May 2014

My property is only eight feet wide on this side of my house. But instead of adding tall skinny shrubs to accent the narrow space or butchering a shrub into a rectangular stripe down the side, I added giant, voluptuous 'Prague' viburnums. Tough evergreens, they provide year round shelter for birds and keep the house cool in the summer.  They are limbed up to increase air circulation and light. 

I like funky art.


This birdhouse was made by a local artist.

Neoclassic urns and cherubs are nice but they're not my style. I like funky, quirky handmade art and refuse to buy anything mass produced in China.

I have a fairly algebraic need for balance.



Curving grass paths on both sides lead you from the gates to the center of the garden. The black log on the upper right is one of my dogs, a dachshund/corgi mix named Baby, who was adopted from a local shelter.


What I do to one side of the garden I will replicate in theme, if not symmetry, on the other. Rocks, birdhouses, birdbaths, copper art, and small shrubs woven among my perennials can be seen throughout my garden.

I need my shady spots as well as the more colorful areas.



This photo was taken in the morning in late May 2014. By early afternoon, the entire back of my garden is in partial to full shade.

There is nothing shy or reserved about me but I tend to be very reflective and spend a great deal of time just wandering about my brain having a think. Parking my butt in the hammock on the shady side of the garden allows me to slow down and just enjoy.

I am an informal, cottage gardener to the bone.


Lucy is a beagle/basset/lab mix adopted from the same shelter as Baby. She is the guardian of the garden.

Anal retentive gardening is not my style. I don't want my plants lined up like naughty boys who were caught playing with their willies instead of going to sleep. My garden is a happy hippie commune and I am the water girl.

I just don't like every plant.

One of these things looks just like the other....

I avoid plants that are stabby, spikey, pokey, prickly or thorny, except for my roses. I am a tactile, affectionate person and like plants I can touch without worrying about needing stitches. But I just don't like cockscomb plant (celosia cristata). It looks like a pile of brains. 

My garden is my art studio, science lab, and workshop. 



Gardening is the perfect marriage of science, engineering, and art. I've designed mine to make me happy, regardless of popular opinion or whatever the latest garden trend may be.

68 comments:

  1. Well said, Tammy. But do you garden in the rain?

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    1. Yes! But only to the extent that I'm not damaging my soil. I've planted lots of containers in light drizzle. :o)

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  2. Too funny, I like your garden as a hug idea and can totally relate to those comforting moments I enjoy the garden and it hugs me back. Even the spiky plants hug, carefully.





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    1. I'll have to take your word on the spikey plants. But my garden is so comforting, why not design like a hug? It makes sense to me. :o)

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  3. As time goes by, we tend to be more like we've always been. Retaining our humor and curiosity is a plus.

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    1. That is so wise. I had to let one roll around my brain a bit. I just love it. It's a keeper!

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  4. Good lord, those phallic hedges. Someone really did that? Your garden is rather more restful Tammy.

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    1. Aren't those shrubs horrible? I'd bust a gut laughing if I had to look at those every day.

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  5. That's funny, I like certain stabby plants like cacti and Agaves, but not roses, and only in certain areas. Some of my garden is restful and cotaggey, and some is crazy un-restful. I like your garden's curves.

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    1. I think we create gardens to give us what we need and desire. I spend all day with kids so an unrestful section of my garden would send me straight to the loony bin. I appreciate cacti from a distance only.

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  6. Maybe - rather than dogs who look like their owners, there should be gardens that show their gardener's inner self.

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    1. I agree. I've met a few people whose gardens would be full of hemlock and poison ivy.

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  7. This is funny ... in a strange way I mean. I just read another blogger friend's post on what his garden/plants reveal about him character wise ..
    I really enjoyed reading it and tried to analyze what mine would say about me and I got "stuck" .. couldn't really say what mine says about me. But here you are Tammy with no apologies saying what you like and what you don't like ... I think I can do it that way too but I am still thinking "what does my garden say about me ?" .. I did get over the hump about ripping out plants that just don't "do it" for me .. so that is a good thing ... yet I do try to let some plants prove themselves to me too ... I think I am still a "leave me alone while I garden" type of gardener ... I have nothing to prove to anyone but myself ... experimenting and having fun while in the thick of things ... I have some very straight lines that just seemed to happen and I can't do anything about them .. we all have our crosses to bear right ? haha
    I am with rusty duck on "what the heck is up with those hedge shrubs??" some one really likes that ? haha
    A garden that hugs, is a wonderful comforting thought ... I like that a lot !
    Joy : )

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    1. I'm pretty unapologetic about who I am and the choices I've made. I like myself and that's no small thing. My garden has some straight lines, too, but they all end in curves. Sharp angles don't work for me but I have some seen some gorgeous gardens full of them. I have plants that I'm a softie about. I know they just need time and patience so that's what I give them while others get the ax or a shovel up the butt. As for the man junk shrubs, what a waste of an erection. ;o)

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  8. I like you, too. Can't wait to meet you. :) Have to say ... the linear, erect shrubs and accompanying little, green meatballs had me chuckling.

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    1. I'd love to know where that picture's from since I found it on Google Images. It was so funny I had to use it. :o)

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  9. Darn tootin! Gardens are for enjoying, so your garden ought to be whatever it is that you enjoy! ...Actually, that's a pretty good argument for a garden full of penises. ;D

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  10. Time for a new book - Our Gardens Ourselves. I love that your garden hugs you; mine usually just kicks my ass. Yours is clearly a more affectionate space! Those interestingly clipped shrubs - really, someone did that? I wish I were as organized and focused as you are in my gardening.

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    1. Mine kicks my ass, too. It can be a bit schizophrenic. I will admit to being organized and mostly focu.....Squirrel!!

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  11. And your garden will never go out of style because it will always be your style. I like the Outlaw's suggestion for a book title - an alternative could be "I Did It My Way."

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    1. That would be a fun book to read. Personal style is always in style. Trends are exhausting.

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  12. You do make us homesick for the garden. And it is kind for you say that we are okay just the way we are. I thought so. I hope you are warm and snug.

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    1. I am warm and snug. I like my life. :o)

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  13. Bravo! Perfectly stated. Me too. I avoid trends like the plague they are. I'm quirky and make no apologies... well maybe halfhearted ones. Over the years, I've noticed that if I let garden design quandaries ruminated in the lower portions of my cockscomb, the answer always materializes sooner or later. I love that about myself and my garden. .... I had a good laugh about your appreciation for those vertical plant shapes. Your blog is always so entertaining!

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  14. I love everything about this post, and agree with your sentiments. But my favourite thing of all in this post is the idea of a garden designed like a hug.

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    1. group hug! Never met a garden designed as a hug before, but now, the idea is growing on me.
      Going to plant a hug, one day, when the workers are finished.
      Currently tappy tappy tappy relaying the brick patios.

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    2. I didn't consciously design it as a hug but realized that's what I was creating when I felt a strong need to draw the garden inwards. The more it curved, the more embraced and comfortable I felt. :o)

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  15. I cannot believe the phallic shrubs. I suppose people do not actually see what they create (we won't go into what it could mean or suggest!)
    You have seen enough pictures of my garden to know that it has few curves. I like right angles. We will each be ourselves - you do the curves, I will do the angles and we will both be happy! There is room for all of us! The funny thing is that I am sure I would like your garden and you would like mine. It is a very good thing we don't all like the same style!

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    1. The shrubs are horrible and hysterical at the same time. :o) If every garden looked like mine, how boring it would be. I love your garden and never thought about all its right angles til right now. We should just do whatever works for us, not others and your garden works so well.

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  16. I love the idea of a garden being shaped like a hug. I am like you, I don' t like straight lines or formal gardens, they are so boring. The gardens I like best are the ones like yours which reflect the personality of the gardener. I think too many gardeners don't trust their own taste and try to keep up with fashionable trends. That is why you get so many gardens that look just like one another. I wouldn't want a row of phallic hedges along the front of my house but I love the originality of it. Wow, it certainly makes a statement.Whoever did that is happy to be themselves and not afraid to express it.

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    1. I do admire the audacity of whoever came up with that landscaping scheme. So so funny. I agree that so many people don't trust their own judgement on taste/gardening, etc. I don't think I could copy someone else. It would feel too much like swimming upstream. I just gotta be me. :o)

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  17. A big, fat DITTO to all of the above. I'm right with you girl. 😊

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  18. What a nice way to start my morning! I was smiling while reading. Bravo! I love your garden, although I love topiary and clipped hedges. They bring some order and calm to my overly eclectic garden.
    Thanks Tammy and have a wonderful 2015!

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    1. Your garden has such a beautiful sense of structure, which mine lacks. Mine i's a bit of a squid. I like the idea of borders creating a sense of calm. I hadn't thought of it like that. Thanks for a fresh perspective! :o)

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  19. I think your garden is wonderful! As are you - by default - because, as you intimated, you ARE your garden and vice versa. Amen.

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    1. Thanks! Right now the garden and I are both cold and lumpy. ;o)

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  20. I'm in with the garden group hug! I always wondered why the cockscomb plant gave me the willies and now I know. I like what Tatyana said, I have one spiral topiary in the center of my garden that really centers it and looks beautiful, but other than that straight lines are too......straight, I guess. Brava--great article Tammy! (I use Brava because you are the feminine form, not the crack-me-up male form that those other gardeners created!) Does nobody stand back and see?

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    1. I don't even like to look at cockscomb. It just weirds me out. The giant weiner shrubs are brilliant and so wrong, which makes them hysterical. Maybe that building is really a condom factory. ;o)

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  21. That's why I love ya!!!! HA! Meatballs!! That is awesome! And I love that hippie mentality!!!! Your garden is a giant hug and a beautiful oasis!!! And you my dear are a talent!!! Rock on!! Nicole xoxo

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    1. I can only hope I am more talented than opinionated, but I have my doubts. Did you ever seen the movie Cocoon? It's about aliens coming out of giant life pods that resemble big round shrubs. Whenever I see perfectly round shrubs I'm reminded of either meatballs or aliens. Not good....

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  22. Gardening is so good for us in many different ways.

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    1. I'd be locked up in a loony bin without it! ;o)

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  23. Loved this little ramble in your garden.
    Don't worry I talk to my plants too, and I do apologise to them from time to time like when I forget to water them or prune them or if I chose the wrong spot to plant them or the utmost apology "Sorry I didn't take care of you well enough." when they're dead.

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    1. I've apologized to dead plants, too, especially if it was my fault. They never forgive me.

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  24. Hahahaha....you DO make me laugh!!! WHAT is with those linear erect shrubs and meatballs???? EEK!!! I love curves too, and loved your idea of the hugged shaped garden...in fact I loved all your ideas and found myself nodding away as I was reading. I was laughing away at you apologising to and yelling at a plant!!!! WAT are you like Mrs????? P.s, would love to see more of your dogs.....thanks for such a fab post!xxx

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    1. I was just having the worst day and when I went to check on my rich velvety red clematis, I saw it had a big purple streak up each petal and looked like a cheap disco outfit. I was so mad I yelled at it and ripped it out. It grew back just to spite me so I apologized and gave it the royal treatment. I'll try to take more garden pix with the dogs in them. They've redug all the holes I filled last fall and were eating mouthfuls of soil just the other day. I asked the vet if they had a nutrient deficiency but apparently I just have tasty soil. Must amend soil with hot sauce instead of compost.....

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  25. I think of my garden as my blankie although I've never actually said that out loud. My secret wish is to sleep amongst the flowers. We were looking for some astronomy images to fill a large wall the other night. My husband picked out a nebulae very similar in form to the green shrubs you depict. Not going to happen.

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    1. Was it the Eagle Nebula? How can you resist the Pillars of Creation! It hasn't occurred to me to connect them to the man junk shrubs above but it will be hard to stifle a laugh in class tomorrow since I'm teaching a unit on astronomy. Our gardens are comforting spaces, regardless of how we design them. :o)

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  26. Right on girlfriend! You are your self and you are the best!! I love your garden, its relaxed and beautiful and brimming with lovely plants and flowers. That takes tons of hard work, thought and planning. To be yourself is the best, a lot of people are afraid of individuality, afraid of trying anything different, afraid of making a misstep in life. They sure miss a lot, miss meeting creative wonderful people and not benefitting from so much of life. Your funny pictures always crack me up!!

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    1. Thanks! I like being me and enjoy terrifying people who are afraid of themselves. ;o)

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  27. So inspiring! I love you statement "Your garden is your art studio, science lab and workshop." Mine too....:)

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    1. A garden is always more than a garden. :o) It's a place to explore, experiment, and dream. :o)

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  28. I completely understand about your garden being designed to look like a hug! It's just a smaller version of St. Peter's Square, which was designed to be like the arms of the Church enfolding its people! Also, I too yell at plants, and applaud their successes! My kids think I'm a whack-a-doodle sometimes! Not a fan of cockscomb or tall shrubs flanked by little balls--that picture is so funny! Who, but who, could have thought that wold be a good idea? (Probably a man!) Thanks for the good chuckle today! -- Kimberley

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    1. I've never been to the Vatican so I had to Google what the square looked like but I do see the similarity! Cockscomb just bugs me as do any tall skinny shrubs. I do wonder if that building was landscaped like that on purpose or if the whole thing was meant as a joke. Either way, it was so funny I couldn't pass it up. :o)

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  29. I love that your garden reflects you, Tammie--that's the way things should be! I once had a neighbor tell me, when my lilies were in bloom--all in different clashing shades--that my garden reflected my hippie roots. Ha, I never was a hippie, but I secretly wanted to be:) By the way, I won't even tell you what those tall evergreens look like to me; surely, they have been the source of many jokes and sniggers.

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    1. I can see you as a secret hippie. :o) Those giant man junk shrubs are just so wrong I had to include them. I would have been a giant weenie for missing such a great opportunity. ;o)

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  30. HI Tammy, that's funny and brilliantly written. It's eerie how I recognise many of the same aspects in myself, but I would say that I'm no where near as creative, especially when it comes to your funky art, bird boxes and decorated pots - they're inspired. The garden style I go for is a voluptuous garden so crammed and packed with plants, colour, fragrance and flowers that it looks as though it's constantly on the verge of tipping into complete chaos.

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    1. You're my brother from another mother. :o) We are quite the same, aren't we? I love your description of your garden as voluptuous. That's what I like, too. I feel uncomfortable in gardens that seem so tightly regimented and restrained. My garden is always teetering on the edge of chaos and often falls right in. :o)

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  31. Oh, you are more organised than me, I don’t make lists of what to do, I just go out in the garden and see what needs doing most, then I sit down for a moment and ask myself ‘is that what I would like to spend today doing?’ Nothing in my garden is a chore, but it doesn’t mean I can’t be swayed to do something different. I rarely just sit and do nothing – it takes 5 minutes and I am up deadheading or planting again.
    And my garden is the most important room in my house, the place where I take all my photos and movies, the only place I go outside except for when going to hospital and my inspiration for many creative hours on the computer – and I think the garden reflects me pretty well, most people call me a very tidy person and my garden is….well, the same :-)

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    1. Your garden is immaculate! I don't think of gardening as a chore but it does feel like work sometimes but work that I enjoy. I love the physicality of gardening. It feels good to be dirty and exhausted at the end of the day. I'm not much of a sitter, either. I'd rather be up doing something, unless I'm reading.

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  32. You and I both like warm, curvy, affectionate gardens. You sound like you are more organized than I but I do like spending a lot of time contemplating different bits of the garden as you do. Plus I agree with your preference for the funkier sort of garden art rather than the pseudo-classical. One of these days I am going to have to see your garden in person.

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  33. Haha, love this post but it made me nervous about just how much my garden reveals about me!
    Tight little hedges and I love the prickly plants... no poison hemlock though, so I hope that's some redemption :) Maybe it's like a garden reform school, I see the good in all the bad characters but want to give them enough structure to help it come out.... but it ends up just being a prison? Ouch. I think ignorance is bliss, so I'll leave the self reflection to you and grab a lazy lawnchair and just enjoy the color!
    God if that really was a condom factory I'd wet myself.

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    1. As for that being a condom factory, it is possible to have too much of a good thing! ;o) As for your garden being a reform school, maybe I'll start sending you my plants that misbehave.

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  34. What the heck is up with those "erect" shrubs and meatballs? Good lord! They are positively pornographic! This post put me in mind of a Julia Child quote which goes something like," No excuses and never apologize!"

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  35. They are quite shocking, aren't they? I really like that quote. I believe in apologies when I've done something wrong but I won't apologize for liking what I like. Being me isn't wrong.

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