A Gentle Plea for Chaos

I've recently exchanged the tending of a large semi-wild Norfolk country garden with the cultivation of a tiny walled back garden and even smaller front garden in the centre of Edinburgh. Having spent a number of years living in London after graduating, I'm enjoying urban gardening again and I find myself studying the plants growing here in as close detail as those in our old meadow garden.

We're lucky - on one side we have woodland (with owls, woodpeckers, buzzards and foxes) and a small burn as neighbours. It's one of those renowned damp Scottish gardens and so, in the old stone walls and between the bricks edging the beds, we find a variety of ferns and welsh poppies too. Honeysuckle happily grows in the mortar of the walls in places.

When in the plant nursery or leafing through seed catalogues I now find myself being more choosy as every plant must really earn its place here. At the same time, I want to keep the same chaotic mix of the wild and the cultivated that inspires me, to continue to celebrate the self-seeders, to welcome those that climb and creep over and under my neighbours' fences and walls.

In her gardening anthology Garden Wisdom, Leslie Geddes-Brown includes 'A Gentle Plea for Chaos' by Mirabel Osler in which she asks... "So when I make a plea for havoc, what would be lost? Merely the pristine appearance of a garden kept highly manicured which could be squandered for amiable disorder. Just in some places. Just to give a pull at our primeval senses. A mild desire for amorphous confusion which will gently infiltrate and, given time, one day will set the garden singing".

This is the garden I hope I'll create here.

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