Monday, September 17

NIMG: Not In My Garden!

Even as I posted a picture of the baby-pink sedum flowers that so distressed me earlier this week, I knew that--as Rosemarie pointed out--I was opening a can of worms. When pink does appear in my garden in the form of a double Japanese anemone or an apricot-hued heuchera, it's always tamed with an acid green, deep plum, bronze-y brown, etc. I never purposely site it next to something like a baby purple--I'm just not a pastel kind of girl, that's all.

Plenty of other gardeners love pinks and pastels, though, and I've seen some pretty combinations of those shades in other garden posts. That started a thought tangent... I wondered what plants, accessories and designs other gardeners enjoy but were purposely keeping out of their own gardens, and why. And thus the NIMG challenge was born.

A few people have already gamely posted their lists, and you can find links to those in the comments on the original post. (Craig went above and beyond, including a well-Photoshopped fantasy image on his!) I did mean this challenge in the strict interpretation that Elizabeth used in crafting her list, but I am glad to see that even when a much looser interpretation was used, things are staying relatively positive. If you decide to make a NIMG post yourself, feel free to leave a link in the comments so that others can find it.

Without further ado, here are some things that I can appreciate in other people's yards... but Not In My Garden:

1) Elaborate annual bedding schemes, like the one seen in this picture taken by Jeffrey Beall.* While I love the riot of color, this has a formality and precision that I could probably not achieve even if I wanted to... I don't manicure my nails, and I don't manicure my garden, either.

Frankly, I prefer a whole lot of wildness in my garden. Maybe it's just in my nature, or maybe it's a reaction to all of the squared-off, plotted-out city that surrounds me here, I don't know. I have yet to figure that out. I just know that any formal designs or precise schemes are generally NIMG.

That said, I am, however, toying with the idea of using some formal elements to contrast with and highlight the wildness. Possibly a square lawn space (albeit with blue grama grass instead of the fussier fescues usually planted around here) and/or gently shaped evergreen shrubs. More on that in a later post.

2) Japanese garden style. I love it. I have books on it, including the classic Sakuteiki--and I have a lot of plants with handsome habits and interesting foliage like those often found in Japanese gardens. Like those you see in this photo of a true Japanese garden by Manicosity.*

But I have long since faced this fact: There is no way I can ever be as restrained as I would need to be to have a proper Japanese garden. Not In My Garden. My garden makes me feel exhuberant and yes, maybe even sexy, but definitely not quiet and tranquil. (And, heck, I can't even make a blog post less than three screens long... so my lack of brevity shouldn't really come as a surprise to anybody.)

3) White gardens are so elegant, and refreshing in a calm, cooling kind of way. (Just look at this picture of white petunias and alyssum posted by Nic's events* and tell me it doesn't drop your pulse rate a bit.) Silvers combine well with them, and any monochromatic scheme allows you to play with texture--one of my favorite things to use in the garden.

I do have a few stray white flowers in my gardening, including a heavenly scented nicotiana sylvestris, but I will never have a true moon garden or all-white border. Why? Well, I absolutely despise the dirty-tissue look of past-their-prime white blossoms, and I refuse to be a slave to daily deadheading. The white flowers I do have are about all that I can handle in the maintenance department, so all-white borders fall squarely under the category of NIMG.

4) Well Planned Veggie Gardens. I dream of someday having a veggie garden with the beautiful, squared plots and straight paths seen at dreams and bones, and Skippy's Vegetable Garden, and uniform row cover hoops like those that Steven sometimes shows. (And of course, I would be thrilled to have their levels of vegetable production!)

When asked why I do not yet have one of these in my own garden I generally blame it on a small yard requiring me to mingle edibles with ornamentals. But that's not entirely true. Some of the blame goes back to the formality issue I mentioned in #1 above, but my lack of garden planning skills is another cause.

Check out this garden picture from domino nz's Flickr pages: Precise rows, planned by height, some successive planting thrown into the mix... all seem to be well outside of the realm of possibility for a plant-by-the-seat-of-her-pants girl like me. Not to mention that I don't do "row planting" very well anyway.

5) Daylilies. Lots of gardeners whose gardens and blogs I admire (Gotta Garden and Karen among them) go crazy for daylilies. They look lovely en masse in this picture by jacklail*, and one of my favorite sights in late summer is of the "ditch lilies," aka wild tiger lilies, blooming on the roadsides once you escape the confines of the city.

I even grew a few daylilies at my old house, in a bed with a 'Miss Kim' lilac, sedum and tall phlox. I couldn't tell you which ones I grew--frankly, most of the hundreds of ruffled, peachy colored ones with the reddish purple ring around the inside center look the same to me--but I can tell you why I decided not to even start with them here: their foliage leaves me cold.

I think I look at it daylilies as a grassy kind of plant in terms of design, and even though pennisetums and other ornamental grasses do not offer huge multicolored blooms I find them much more attractive out of flower than daylilies are. At the old house, I was always pulling browned leaves out of the daylily clumps, and several of the plants had daylily rust as well. And then there were the mushy remains of each flower at the end of the day.... ugh. So when I moved three years ago, I left the daylilies behind for good. I enjoy seeing the blooms in other people's garden pictures, but NIMG.

That covers the main things that I appreciate in other people's gardens, and I hope explains why I won't be using those designs or growing those plants in my own. As for the things that I don't like AND won't grow in my garden because of it... well, that's another post entirely! :)

*All pictures come from Flickr and have been designated as available for use under specific terms by those Flickr users who uploaded them. Please see this Flickr page for details.


Sweet Home and Garden Carolina said...

I hear ya. As much as I love Japanese garden style , NIMG. That's because my house is not conducive to the style. I love creating the Asian style garden in small urban plots where it fits so well with a contemporary residence.

I'm with you on " a little on the wildside " style. I love some formal gardens, but NIMG.

Melissa said...

I love most of those gardens too but I find that I lack the foresight and discipline necessary to create those style of gardens...I get sidelined by ideas or by the desire to try one more....

Carol Michel said...

What, you don't want to have a proper vegetable garden in nice raised beds? I can agree with everything else.

That first picture looks like a movie set, maybe the grand entrance to a fantasy place for kids. Ugh. Pretty but not very doable in the suburban landscape!

Carol at May Dreams Gardens

Anonymous said...

Kim, your NIMG post is enlightening. What you won't have in your garden says a good deal about your gardening style, doesn't it?

I took up this meme and posted my own NIMG post ( this morning.

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

I just finished my NIMG post; we seem to have a similar gardening philosophy. I did a Top 10 list, so I didn't mention the vegetable garden. NIMG - been there, done that when I was in highschool & my mom rented a farm plot 1 summer. Also, I don't like the look of a vegetable plot in the front yard, & the back is too shady.

lisa said...

I like this post, Kim! I'll comment again when I have a post to show for it, cuz' I definately want to play along!

Anonymous said...

I seldom photgraph my vegetable garden. It's difficult and I'm embarrassed by it. Sure. I've got raised beds that are more or less straight. And some stuff in rows. Kind of. But it's pretty wild. I can't pull out volunteer kale or cultivated mustards, not even (or maybe especially) when they bolt. Flowers and shrubs that I slam dunked in there temporarily because I didn't have any other place to put them have taken up long-term residence. The area along the deer fence? Some might call it weedy. I call it beneficial insect habitat. (A huge rationalization.) So Kim, if you have space you can have a dedicated veggie garden without resorting to a formal layout.

Unknown said...

Carolyn Gail, good point about houses having to be conducive to a certain style. My humble foursquare could either be simplified down to a zen garden or gussied up into a formal kitchen garden, but... that would require me to commit to one or the other! :)

me, you garden like I do. :) Heck, I can get sidelined by the sudden thought that maybe the hosta that needs divided in the back bed would look nice up in the front next to the echinacea...

Carol, I want a vegetable garden with raised square beds and straight rows! That's the point... these are things I want, but won't ever make it into my garden for various reasons. :)

Pam/Digging, I think it really does say a lot about the gardener--that's why I've been hoping more people take up the meme themselves! I can't wait to read your post, too.

mr. mcgregor's daughter, I have seen a couple of veggie gardens in the front yard that look nice around here... but admittedly they are square plots in front of very old houses so they kind of remind me of the old "victory gardens" instead of looking really out of place! I'll be over to read your meme shortly...

lisa, yay! This should be fun--I have wondered whether you secretly long for a simple zen garden in the middle of your northern meadow. ;)

Craig, I do incorporate lots of veggies and fruits into my garden already--some things are easier to have, like eggplants and kale, because they're pretty and work almost anywhere. But in my fantasies I have a separate formal kitchen garden in the back that consists of quadrants edged in lettuces and herbs, spilling into straight paths of raked gravel. Oh, and a few obelisks (painted a lovely dark blue) in the midst of each for peas and the like... *sigh*

kris said...

Hi Kim - I agree with a lot of your NIMG points. White flowers turning brown: not attractive. Formal anything: not my deal. But I love that you/we can appreciate those things in other gardens. That's what keeps it interesting - we all do it differently.

Anonymous said...


Unfortunately (for me) that photo of the "Elaborate annual bedding scheme" lit me up. I want THAT.

5 Minutes ago I would not have thought so.

I wonder if the house next door is for sale? Maybe I can buy, knock it down and put an "Elaborate annual bedding scheme" garden THERE?



Unknown said...

kris, you said it best: that IS what keeps it interesting! :)

Hank, I think you've just inhaled too much crushed limestone dust while laying that lovely herringbone path in your garden... clear it out and then come back to see the elaborate annual bedding scheme then, okay? (But then again, if you can buy the house next door to raze I'd say GO FOR IT!) ;)

growingagardenindavis said...

It's interesting to think about why we develop the interests in or aversions to certain types of gardens and what makes certain things worth working for and other things not. I've posted my NIMG thoughts...or at least the first layer of them. I think there's more to ponder here!

Tina said...

Ugh! I want 'em all. But, I still like my spilled crayons gardens. :) If someone had enough space, they could always do 'rooms' of all the different styles they liked. Got 500 acres? lol.

Oh, and I posted about the Blue Moon so you could see how well we did with it. Yeah, we're all patting ourselves on the back! lol. Thanks again!

Unknown said...

Leslie, I agree... and I like the way you put that. I think it's really interesting what people think are "worth working for," as well as being attainable. (Lots of my choices are just not personally attainable!) And layered thoughts are good things. :)

Tina, "when I win the lottery I will have 500 acres..." lol. I would love to have even one acre, actually! Thanks for letting me know about the update--I'll be stopping by to check that out later.

kathy said...

I like your NIMG post! A great topic to think about.

Except I have gnomes and a fairly orderly (and productive) vegetable garden (with lovely weeds growing in it). I have Japanese concepts and day lilies in my backyard and bedding themes in my front yard. At one time I even had a windmill decoration near my front steps (well I'm Dutch...) .

I'm going to try to think of what I don't like. Hmmm. Pachysandra. That might be about it.

Anyway I'd like to do my own NIMG post someday, too.

charles edwards said...

Although I have a large garden I do belive that it can be sectioned in a way to merge different styles and still be aesthetically pleasing, I have a section of my garden that is in style very Japanese and I also have some nice hardy Bonsai to add to the ambience of that part, saying that it then blends into an english style garden and the plant coverage is reduced to the lawn area where I have a tasteful cafe bistrothat looks great in the turfed area. I must admit that I do not have a vegetable patch or any part of my garden that vegetables are grown but I am sure I could include them if I really wanted.

Anonymous said...

Imagine 500 acres, I have trouble with 30 ft x 30ft

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