All In a Row
Mystique is priceless. Unexpectedly coming across it is the best. Ian, my husband, and I came upon a charming garden when we were newlyweds. An older couple from our church invited us to stay in their cabin at the lake. They gave us a key, driving directions, and a hug. We found their family built cabin, with its warm, antique-furnished interior, waiting when we arrived.
Viola was not a pretentious decorator; but the atmosphere could easily have been featured in a cottage magazine. Cozy, cozy and more cozy. You could just imagine all the family memories being made in that place. It even had attic bedrooms you just knew grandchildren adored. In an old sideboard, in the dining area, was a stash of old Our Daily Bread booklets. This place was good for the senses and for the soul.
Viola had mentioned there was a garden behind the cabin. She said we could help ourselves to the produce it grew, and only asked that we give it some water. So after we were settled into the cabin, we ventured outside. This was no All in a Row garden. It was hard to determine where one vine ended and where the next one began. We had a treasure hunt looking for fresh vegetables to have with dinner. A variety of squash and cucumbers intertwined among carrots, beans and lettuce. Marigolds, nasturtiums, and petunias rivaled one another for attention. Supper was scrumptious.
I learned a couple of things during our stay at that cabin. First, I discovered I had a place in my heart for the comforting quilt of a cottage garden. It was the crazy patch design of it that appealed to me. I had always lined up things all in a row, whether it was on my shelves or in a planter. It was time to evaluate my decorating theology.
There was not just one way to do things.
Secondly, I learned from observing my husband’s reaction to the garden “chaos” that he loved the intrigue of the casual, cottage style, too. So as 28 years have passed by, I still have some garden areas that have tidy rows, such as my blue lake bush beans. But as for my flowers: English, country, cottage style all the way. I truly appreciate the way some perennials spill over the edges of my garden beds and give the impression of age to a spot I’ve recently created.
I’ve learned to mix herbs and vegetables in with flowers too. By allowing certain flowers to produce mature seeds, I am guaranteed an original display the following summer as I allow them to self-sow at will. Once a tomato plant sprouted in my rock garden, and I left it there. It produced ripe tomatoes without the protection of my greenhouse. I named it Trooper and collected seeds from it. My greenhouse is now growing the third generation from the hardy volunteer. Last year we had tomatoes until December.
I’ve learned something else, too, from English cottage gardens. In my own life I’ve discovered rigidity is not only uninspiring, but it’s not healthy. Plants thrive in a mixed border as it confuses the pests and often there’s mutual benefits the plants afford each other. The classic corn, beans, and squash combination is a good example of this. The corn provides support for the beans; the beans increase the nitrogen available to the corn; and the squash acts as a living mulch to smother weeds and conserve moisture for the corn and beans.
The Bible mentions both self-control and variety to be sown in our lifestyle.
~ ❀ ~
Sow your seed in the morning,
and in the evening let not your hands be idle,
for you do not know which will succeed,
whether this or that,
or whether both will do equally well.
Whatever our garden style or lifestyle, we are creating a tapestry that’s visible to others. How do we want to inspire others? I desire to be like Viola’s garden: healthy, productive, and inspiring. Let’s continue learning and growing.
Blessings ~ Wendy ❀