Neatness.....a swear word in the garden?

VerdunVerdun Posts: 23,348

I grow plants to be fully appreciated for what they are.  Not with any intention to be "neat".  A nice mounded hebe is spoiled by a thug next door to it for example.  A beautiful conifer overwhelmed by a vigorous dahlia then has no distinct form.  A hosta grown over by an energetic rambling geranium is spoiled.

Some plants look good "mixing it up"........a blue geranium running into a group of rudbekias.......but "neatness" enables  the protected plants to look good in the winter time.

I guess I am a "neat" gardener.  I like to see an echinacea, for example, showing off its flowers......and foliage.....without  another plant merging with it.  Associations can still be arranged....and look better......if space is allowed between them for each to display its own individual beauty.

So, is neatness a swear word for you folks?  If you like your plants tumbling into one another to form a tapestry of colour then I guess you will say "yes....neatness is not proper gardening.  It's not as nature intended"

So, who are the neat gardeners?  Why? And why not? 



  • Scott EdwardsScott Edwards Posts: 228

    I have always been annoyingly tidy. My wife would say I'm just annoying! For good or for ill I'm always going to be neat in the garden as well. I just can't help myself. I have to constantly resist the temptation to strim the grass in the churchyard down to the ground. Whilst I know it looks just a nice (if not nicer) as a wild flower meadow with just a couple of paths mowed through it and is far better for wildlife it takes me all of my will power not to reach for the strimmer.  

  • nutcutletnutcutlet Posts: 24,043

    I'm certainly not neat. In the garden or in my appearance or anywhere that I can think of.

    It's not a swear word though. Just beyond my capabilities

  • MrsGardenMrsGarden Posts: 3,736
    Aim for neatness but doesn't suit my plant greed.

    Verdun, any tips on having everything I want ( all usually similar heights!) AND maintaining neatness rather than 'finding a space just about right'???
  • fidgetbonesfidgetbones Posts: 11,095

    I'm not neat. I have every intention,,,, but then the sneaky plants get away from me with their exuberance.

    It's not a mess, it's a nature reserve.
  • ElusiveElusive Posts: 992

    My garden is small enough to keep neat, although this is still time consuming.

    I like to maintain some distance between plants, even if just a few cm, if only for airflow and to stop disease.

    I like to see every plant reach its capabilities but sometimes its a little too much so I step in and 'tidy' them up

  • Busy Bee2Busy Bee2 Posts: 1,005

    Neat?  I'm not even tidy image  the under-gardener is forever complaining that I have left a trail of implements behind me as my mind wanders from job to job and I get distracted.  I have this peculiar idea that at some point, the garden will be 'finished'.  And when it is finished, I will tidy away all the stuff that I have left out in the course of doing it.  But the garden is never 'finished'.  I am trying really hard to 'do' tidy.  'Neat' I fear, will be a long time coming. 

  • davids10davids10 Posts: 895




     is this what you mean-seriously, de gustibus........

  • punkdocpunkdoc Posts: 5,109

    I am not neat I am artistic, or at least thats what I say I am. I do like a nicely cut lawn edge though, it seems to enhance the messiness of everything else.

    I do agree with you Verdun, in that I think certain specimens should be able to stand out from the crowd, but other than that I like the wild look, or the jungle look in the hot border.

    Spanish songs in Andalucia
    The shooting sites in the days of '39
    Oh, please, leave the vendanna open
    Fredrico Lorca is dead and gone

  • Busy-LizzieBusy-Lizzie Posts: 11,900

    I'm not neat or tidy, probably overwhelmed! An acre of garden & a big veggie plot, housework, cooking, social life, horses, dog and not getting any younger. And I get distracted, I see a weed, not where I was weeding but elsewhere so first bit doesn't get finished and I'm bound to leave a tool behind, always mislaying secateurs. Or there is a rose to smell or a new flower out, then the phone goes and I never do empty that wheelbarrow, well I do when I next need it! I don't even through away potting compost bags, they might come in handy one day.image And if tools break they get left in the tiny shed or the lean too in case I get around to mending them. Need a decent outbuilding for all the "stuff";

  • Busy Bee2Busy Bee2 Posts: 1,005

    Oh Busy Lizzie - that's exactly what I mean!  I have two weed grubbers, and I've lost both of them in this way.  I refuse to pay a tenner for a third one (the other two will turn up when the vegetation dies down in the autumn) but it is not the same trying to wrestle a dandelion root with an old chisel image

  • Busy Bee2Busy Bee2 Posts: 1,005

    David that is one beautiful explosion there!

  • Percy-GrowerPercy-Grower Posts: 251

    Neat & tidy don't know the meaning of the words, distraction now there's a word, i go to bed at night thinking of the main jobs to do in the garden next day, next day comes wonder into garden spot a plant needing pruned, a flower needing dead headed, before i no it im pottering and the main jobs are getting put on the back burner until tomorrow, then it all begins again, yes i formulate planting schemes in my head, but the never end up even close to what was in my head to start with...

  • Orchid LadyOrchid Lady Posts: 5,800

    I'm trying to be neat, but my plants have gone mad this year, even ones I have had for several years have suddenly come to life (it may have something to do with me feeding them which I have never done before!!!!), so now my garden isn't neat and looks a bit overgrown so some serious moving about and dividing to be done when I can.

    My GH I like to keep neat but at the minute it looks like a bomb's hit will be neat again soon when I've finished planting everything and tidied up!!

  • Fishy65Fishy65 Posts: 2,013

    When I first started gardening I tried to be neat.Nice trimmed borders etc but somewhere that got lost in the chaos that is nature. The shrubs at the bottom need pruning right back...the flowering redcurrant,forsythia,the honeysuckle rambling around the old dog kennel where I keep my junk.I've got self seeded violets under there which probably wouldn't have been if I'd been neater with my pruning.I love the randomness of nature and straight lines don't do it for me.Each to their own though,which is the beauty of gardening.

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 42,788

    I like the way that the 'neat bits', straight lawn edges and rows of vegetables etc, accentuate the lush burgeoning bounteous overspillng of the flower beds and the rambling scrambling nature of the climbers on the fences and trellises and the wildness of the little wilderness.

    For me, you can't have one without the other image

    Gardening is cheaper than therapy, and you get tomatoes. 
  • MrsGardenMrsGarden Posts: 3,736
    I like my rhododendron surrounded by a circle of pink geraniums flowering later. I like my harts tongue fern also encircled by purple heuchera ( although that needs attention as I didn't realise how much the heucjera would grow). A neat path of lavender is planned. A clump of chives in the middle of ? Stachys (lambs ears) will also overgrow soon. Having a plan of fireglow euphorbia with again purple heuchera in front of it and helianthmum's little orange flowers poking out of the heuchera ( and an elusive blue poppy hiding somewhere there). So far this is my take on neatness. Intermingled but sort of planned. Still learning how much the plants grow and spread.

    I try height Verdun, but it all seems to be later in the year, nothing for now. Maybe I need some evergreen types? Mini conifers? For form? Grasses you will say, and now I have a couple elsewhere, I will tend to agree... Where are my 'planted last autumn' eremuris? They dont look well.
  • ClaringtonClarington Posts: 4,892

    I like neat. I like straight lines, sharp edges, right angles, things in threes or fours to create triangles and squares, and a general nice uniformity that would pass an ISO 9001 inspection with the paperwork twice signed and neatly clipped in a folder.

    I wonder if this is why I prefer vegetable plants to pretty flowers? They lend themselves so much more naturally to lines.

    (I'm the kind of person who irons socks so they look more neat in the drawer).

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 42,788

    I agree with aspects of what you say Clari - when I plan borders, beds, fences etc they have to relate to each other proportionately and with similar angles, curves etc.  My art school training means that using the Golden Section is automatic. 

    However, my planting spills out over it all like a Dutch still life cornucopia image

    Gardening is cheaper than therapy, and you get tomatoes. 
  • Victoria SpongeVictoria Sponge Posts: 2,397

    Is it alright to be undecided or say it depends?

    I don't like to see bare soil and I also like alot more plants (or am experimenting with) than I have room for.

    Most things I grow for the flowers and while I like to see the shape of something that has a nice shape, lupins or potentilla for example, some flowering plants don't have particularly nice foliage and look better tangled into the mix.

    I treat foliage plants slightly differently, my ferns and 1 x hosta and Heuchera have plants around them but not exactly elbowing them in the face, otherwise there wouldn't really be a point to them (I think).

    My problem at the moment is trying to prevent the garden looking too 'fussy'- a few little girls have commented how much they liked my garden which was nice but got me thinking...are there too many small things? I'm hoping when some shrubs and trees start to establish and age it will balance things out...

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