I’ve always heard that a messy desk is the sign of a genius. I am not sure if the inverse is necessarily true, but my husband has a meticulously tidy desk at work and he’s not that dumb!
As somebody who has always – at work and at home – had a desk overflowing with piles of papers, books, things to read, etc, I naturally would like to agree with the mantra. But does the same hold true in the garden?
As I’ve mentioned before, a natural habitat garden can be, by nature, a little disheveled. Packing in a diversity of plants and plant types not only provides shelter and housing for many tiny critters, it also means that the garden, when viewed from a distance, literally brims with colors, textures and shapes of all sizes. Some might even call it – gasp – untidy?!
But I’d like to argue that both a messy desk and a messy garden is the sign of an effective mind. My piles of papers and books contain information that I know I’ll need again sometime soon for my work (although I admit I could do with a good filing system!). My habitat gardens reflect a gardening style that aims to create natural balance on my little patch of earth, that supplies all the essential ingredients for a healthy “bio-stew” of micro-organisms, insects, animals, plants that together create a healthy, functioning ecosystem that requires no toxic chemical input from me.
Genius? You don’t have to be, as long as you follow my golden rules of natural landscaping:
- Choosing plants suited for your particular site conditions, rather than trying to change your
conditions to suit certain plants.
- Replacing all or part of your lawn with areas of plants, shrubs and trees that provide benefits for birds, pollinators and beneficial insects, and reducing your need to mow
- Reducing or eliminating the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides in favor of organic techniques and products such as companion planting and compost
- Identifying and removing ecologically invasive plants from your landscape to prevent them from forming monocultures, which reduce the overall biodiversity of the area
- Using native plants wherever possible to reduce the need for fertilizing, spraying and watering, as well as provide essential resources for the native wildlife who have evolved to depend on them
- Recognizing that most bugs are “good bugs”, most bees are gentle and do not sting, and that insects in general are essential to healthy ecosystems.
- Letting go of the idea that we need fussy, high-maintenance exotic plants in order to have a beautiful garden.
You’ll notice that most of these tenets require you to observe and respect the rules of nature. In other words, letting nature take care of itself. Now that‘s genius.