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Confessions of a Permissive Gardener

Articles: Confessions of a Permissive Gardener

It is a fine thing to have a new plot of ground to garden. It stirs the imagination, encourages the mind to dream of structure, promises a flowering Eden of one’s own, and finally sends the new gardener out with plan, trowel, and full‑blown hubris to bend nature to his will. Those of us who were lucky enough to find such a new plot may also have found an important corollary: nature in the garden does not take kindly to being bent. Not that she takes any stubborn stance against us, she simply takes her own time (she has plenty), and slowly, in minor increments, lets us know that, although the gardener may propose, the garden disposes.

Some years ago, I acquired a new home, a new space to garden. The previous owners had let the half‑acre place run to a jungle of pyracantha, aging apricot trees, a patch of Bermuda grass, and a paved badminton court. I was young enough to glory in the challenge and inexperienced enough to be confident that I could meet it. I was new to gardening. Previously I had been a weekend gardener. The small suburban lot that I tended was notable for being low maintenance. I congratulated myself on its success; I could indeed manage it in less than half a day ...

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