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Garden Defects

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The garden is no place for perfection. Constant change is inherent, whether it is decay and death or growth, seeding and spreading. But much of both Western and Eastern styles of gardening are built around the ideas of control and perfection. There is a desire to see the crisp edge of lawn abutting the curb, the perfectly manicured mixed perennial bed, the perfectly shaped shrub, the ideal clean Zen rock garden--everything behaving neatly, just like in the gardening books.

That's because we find beauty in symmetry, neatness, clean lines. 

But the truth is, its nearly impossible for gardens to be perfect. It's nearly impossible for us to be perfect. Yet, we struggle through life trying to be so. In our own lives, we beat ourselves up for our quirks, those gaps or frayed threads within our souls that we feel are ugly. We judge others for their imperfections too, rather than finding those things unique and beautiful.


In evolution, it's the quirky mutations from which new traits and species arise. One generation's crazy ugly spotted fur is the next generation's advantage, if the environment changes in its favor. 

Just as in life, we gardeners are prone to fight nature's tendency toward chaos, disorder and imperfection. Most of us anyway.

But perhaps its good to allow imperfection into the garden, like the Navajo, to purposely leave some of the threads unwoven. It's in those places of imperfection that some of the best beauty hides. It's where an unexpected flower can take hold, or a lizard can find a home. That imperfect weed that you didn't want there; that one with the red berries. Maybe that's where a bird decides to alight on its journey to South America for the winter.

So, as I gaze across my garden and see what isn't right, I'm meditating on the fact that it is all right. That there is no ideal ending. Because imperfection is beautiful too.

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