In The Botany of Desire, Michael Pollan describes two types of gardeners: the Apollonian gardener, who likes everything neat and ordered and in straight rows, and the Dionysian gardener, who allows entropy to take over in the garden to a certain extent. Well, I am most definitely the Dionysian type (though I do try to put in some straight-row crops for the benefit of my husband, who is much more the Apollonian type!). To some, it may look messy, but to me it’s just another way to maximize the productivity and beauty of the land I tend. Here are some photos to illustrate what I mean:
Volunteer sunflowers pop up among the cabbages (and keep them nicely shaded during the heat of the summer!):
Purslane covers the ground in the pepper bed (a nice-looking, edible natural mulch):
Dandelions and other leafy weeds grow in various places, allowed to get rather large before they are pulled to become free food for the chickens:
Growing smack dab in the middle of a path is a volunteer cucumber that I didn’t have the heart to pull, especially as I got my cukes in so late this year:
Some of last year’s carrots are allowed to bloom in this year’s tomato bed, to attract beneficial insects (it is positively buzzing with any number of species every morning!):
A jungle of Impatiens glandulifera grows in a shady spot. I planted two of them (one purple, one white; now I have several shades of purple, pink, and white, as the two varieties have hybridized) several years ago and have allowed them to go to seed every year. The bumblebees love them!
And arugula grows wherever it damn well pleases. I don’t have a photo of this, but believe me, it grows everywhere.
There are other examples, I’m sure, but I’ve frankly gotten so used to seeing my garden this way that I don’t even realize anymore that some things may seem “out of place” to others. Certain plants that started out as cultivated flowers or crops (arugula, California poppies, calendula, chicory, shiso, etc.) have quite established their rightful places throughout the garden. Other plants are less desirable (like those dang blackberry brambles that pop up everywhere!), but it just takes me awhile to get around to removing them, and still others are weedy annoyances that I’ve come to terms with over the years (nipplewort and foxtails are two examples, though both can at least be fed to the chickens in their younger, more tender state).