The power of a little chaos

Here's my proposal: create a jungle for yourself and you will not be sorry. 

Whether it is your backyard or a fire escape full of pots or a hand-picked bouquet from the roadside, (or some completely other creative pursuit, really) a jungle is good for the soul. 



What makes something qualify as a jungle? It's a fertile place that escapes rigid control. It's something you let surprise you and has a touch of chaos.

My gardening style is heavily influenced by my mom's. Basically, it involves leaving space for chance and luck. Do some planning and provide some structure, plant some things, then stand back and see what happens. Give it time to do what it's going to do. Let things go a little wild. Then wade in and edit. And then stand back again for awhile. 



Let things seed themselves in. Move pots around to different spots. Try a bunch of different plants together and see which ones thrive and which don't and which color and texture combinations you like best. Don't get too locked into your original idea of how you wanted it to look, or you might miss out on things that are more interesting than your original idea.



Plotting and planning and making a garden are very satisfying but so is pausing to put your feet up and observe what's happening on its own. Watch the bumble bees and dragon flies and the branches weaving together. If you don't do the second part, you don't get as good at the first part. And you don't end up with the richness of a jungle. And, I would argue, you don't have as much fun.



We can't control or anticipate everything, in gardening or in life, but, up to a certain point, isn't it better that way? An openness to chance and an embracing of the unknown can be illuminating. You almost never hear someone say, 'That was magical. It was exactly what I expected.'  The magic part is the surprise of something better than - and often very different from - what we expected. So, here's to leaving room for a little chaos, - to making a jungle, and some magic, for ourselves.




"...I experience [gardening] as an act of utter futility, I shall never have the garden I have in my mind, but that for me is the joy of it; certain things can never be realized and so all the more reason to attempt them."

"A garden, no matter how good it is, must never completely satisfy. The world as we know it, after all, began in a very good garden, a completely satisfying garden - Paradise - but after a while the owner and the occupants wanted more."

- Jamaica Kincaid, from My Favorite Plant: Writers and Gardeners on the Plants They Love


"... gardening is not just a putting into the earth of some frail greenery, but like a stone thrown into a pond, garden thoughts ripple outwards towards a limitless horizon." 

"And what intricacies are we led into from the sheer chance of planting a seed in the earth?" 

- Mirabel Osler, from A Gentle Plea for Chaos



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