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The Yin and Yang Garden

Report From PIA – April 5

We have lived at Poison Ivy Acres for two years, one-and-a-half months, and I’m already moving plants around, correcting mistakes. My mistakes. Yesterday I wrote about removing the creeping Jenny from the rain garden, and today I dug up three Prairie Sky switch grass that are nice plants that were simply put in the wrong place.

Transplanting these three clumps of switch grass leaves plenty of room for the Bloomerang lilac I purchased this morning at Hyannis Country Garden. The lilac is more appropriate for this area anyway, because I call this area a  Fragrance Garden, and frankly, the Prairie Sky Panicum has no smell to speak of.

My blunders in regard to plant choice and placement continue the conversation about successes and failures in the garden sparked by Seth Godin the other day. Seth, Diana, Laurrie, Pam and myself all agreed that fiascos are part of the process, and one great triumph makes up for several failures.

This is how life is, so why do we need to discuss it? I think that our culture encourages us to want and expect easy successes. We want fast food, instant coffee, and high-speed internet, to name just a few examples. My very job as a garden writer is to help people be successful in their landscape, so I play a part in the victory-over-failure game, truth be told.

But while we’re being honest, we all have to admit that not only is failure part of gardening, it’s an ongoing component of our lives, and sometimes it’s not such a bad thing. Even though it’s disappointing, we are often led forward as a result of catastrophes and disappointments. Those dead plants make spaces for new varieties, and personal collapses lead us down roads not yet taken.

As I continue to work toward creating happy, victorious gardeners, I recognize the importance of conveying that gardening and life are whole experiences, the yin and yang, with failure being as important as success in creating a complete life and garden.

Since each of these Panicum filled a five-foot diameter area, the three of them took up a great deal of space in the Fragrance Garden. Time to move them down to the wild-flower area, and replace them with a sweet-smelling lilac.

2 comments to The Yin and Yang Garden

  • I think you are on to something of a principle here… understanding that “failure” whether real or perceived makes room for future success. We so often see our efforts in the garden as producing something static, when it is really an organic flow and ebb. Our understanding grows. The only real failure is when that stops happening.

  • Well said, Ilona. In some senses, our life is that organic ebb and flow, and we only really fail, perhaps, when growth stops. Thanks for adding your lovely thoughts.