March 22, 2010


A lot of dirt has been kicked up by  Garden Rant's  recent guest post titled The Dark Side of Grocery Gardening  by Robin Ripley of the Bumblebee Blog. I doubt that it was Robin's intention to discourage newbie gardeners with her critique of unkempt veggie gardens,  but it prompted a large number of comments, both pro and con.

Movie , literature  and art critics are free to critique  and we use their assessments but if a garden designer rants against what she sees as veggie- gardens- gone- bad then she's accused of discouraging new gardeners.  I don't think so.

There's way too much instant gratification in our society.   It seems that no one makes mistakes and if they do get caught , don't take responsibility for them.   I hear ad nauseum "  good job " from mothers whose kids have done nothing more than  what they should have.  What kind of job will they do when they grow up and their "helicopter " mom's not around to praise them ?  Anything like the sense of entitlement that many of our young have today ?  We need to allow for mistakes, otherwise we'll think we're perfect.   What ever happened to  " you only learn from your mistakes? "

I was green before green was ever cool.  Veggie gardening used to be the "stepchild " of the gardening world, now its trendy.  We raised cash crops of cotton, corn and peanuts and grew all  our own vegetables and meat on our farm.   Planting was always precise - too little and you went without, too much and you weren't able to take care of it.  

Never plant a garden too big for your wife or husband to tend to is an old Southern saying.  When my 3 kids were young and I had a full-time job it was all I could manage so I had a low-maintenance landscape that required little of my attention.   When the kids got older I returned to gardening but kept it to just what I could manage as a weekend warrior.

As renown garden writer  Elizabeth Lawrence proclaimed   :   "Every garden demands as much of its maker as it has to give.  But I do not need to tell you if you are a gardener, that not any undertaking will give as great a return as what we put in it . "

I don't have OCD but I dislike clutter and chaos in my home or garden.  I find a big difference between a lovely meadow and an overgrown patch of weeds/flowers.  I've critiqued some landscapes on my blog before that were unkempt and gaudy and have gotten comments asking " What's wrong with that. ?"  "  Show me your garden and I shall tell you what you are " -Alfred Austin, English writer.

As Emile Zola said " The artist is nothing without the gift - and the gift is nothing without work. "  
As an artist and garden designer I work hard at my craft and I like to think that my home and garden reflect that.   I am by no means perfect but as Aristotle said We are what we repeatedly do.  Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. 

I want everyone to know the joy of gardening as I do.  A garden is a delight to the eye and a solace for the soul according to an ancient Persian.  And so it should be. 

Don't hate me because I'm beautiful -
Trees and Shrub in Sweet Garden Chicago

Long Shots of the 2009  Makeover
at Sweet Garden Chicago

Written by Carolyngail at Sweet Home and Garden Chicago
All rights reserved


  1. Bravo Carolyn,

    I read the Rant article the other day and I did wonder why she went on and on, paragraph after paragraph about messy vegetable gardens. I had a messy vegetable garden once when I rented a plot in a local suburb. It had no running water, my children were little, and the weeds grew faster than my vegetables. I supplied the neighborhood with vegetables. It was certainly much more than I could take care of!

    However, I learned a lesson and now have a very small, neat plot that is easy to take care of and we eat what I grow.

    The article never would have turned me off, but I wouldn't want her plot next to the plot I had rented.


  2. I hadnt read the Rant post until I read yours. I thought it was very interesting attitude. I dont grow veg as I just dont have the patience or time and I know I would end up falling into the category of a messy plot which isnt what I want.

  3. Well done, Carolyn Gail. It seems to me that society in general has become intolerant of views different from one's own, whether in politics, or even in my beloved world of the garden bloggers. It saddens me to see discourse go down to this level of incivility, on any topic. But your gardens are beautiful, that is without a doubt.

  4. Excellent pics and post. When the kids were young and at home I didn't garden at all. I built Pat some beds and that was it. I was always at work. I discovered gardening after a little case of cancer. It sort of helped me rearrange my priorities. The kids moving out on their own also helped. Pat gives order to my chaos. Our new vegtable garden will be in raisedbeds in nice neat rectangles sourrounded by flowering perennials and bushes.

  5. I read blogs to have fun, be informed, be inspired and "meet" others with similar interests. I blog to share information, inspire and "meet" others with similar interests and keep my writing and thinking going.

    I garden because I love it. Like you, I kept my gardens small while working, raising my son, etc. Now, I'm at it daily-- as long as my muscles and the weather cooperate.

  6. Well, crap. I think blogger ate my comment, which I'll try to recap though I'm falling asleep. I had to leave a comment though I've been dealing with memorial services and other things the past couple of days. Didn't want you to think I was making a big pony patty, Carolyn. ;-)
    Your post is heartfelt and intelligent, as always. Which is in itself one of the reasons that I come here regularly to read, even if I don't always comment (these embedded forms hate me for some reason, and often I lose my comment when I go to post). You're an inspiration and encouragement to many, and would be welcome in my garden even on its worst March day.

  7. Thanks for reminding the basics... I just felt that some beginners just becomes too overwhelmed with gardening leading them to eventually outgrow their interest with it...I myself experience this... that time there are no brilliant minds sharing their thoughts in the net... thanks

  8. Thanks you all for visiting and leaving your pithy comments.


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