Garden Variety Anxiety

On Saturday a busload of native plant enthusiasts will visit my garden. I’ve participated in this garden tour twice before, enjoying it both times. And yet, I can’t stop myself from worrying about it.

This is no doubt because I am a compulsive worrier and an instinctive pessimist. It’s not just that the glass is half empty, it’s that whatever is in the glass will probably give me food poisoning.

Let’s get specific. My brain has been busy concocting possible causes of mortification during Saturday’s garden tour. Here’s a sample.

The hardscaping needs a little work.
The hardscaping needs a little work.
  • Shoddy hardscaping. Most of the paths and raised beds are amateur efforts, and it shows. Stones and pavers are set so unevenly that they can cause loss of balance or even seasickness.
  • Tacky containers. The flowers in the containers are pretty nice, generally, but the containers themselves are ugly. Mostly I use cheap plastic jobbies from Home Depot, plus a few grower’s pots which at the time I thought would be wasteful to throw away. Eyes will roll.
Creeping Charlie: resistance is futile. Photo from University of Illinois Extension.
Creeping Charlie: resistance is futile. Photo from University of Illinois Extension.
  • Too many weeds. I have pulled about a bushel of weeds from my beds and borders, mostly Violets and Creeping Charlie. But what about the ones I missed? Creeping Charlie will hide under the foliage of ornamentals, then rush out to cover any bare space while your back is turned. It only takes a moment.
  • Too much bare earth. Now that I pulled out all those weeds, there are many more spots where you can see bare earth. I like everything to be covered with plants, but now there will have to be an archipelago of mulch islands amongst the foliage, though I am filling in a few spots with emergency annuals.


  • Not enough “real” natives. I can see some native plant fundamentalist saying: “What’s this? Cultivars? DAYLILIES!? You call this a native plant garden? Why, this garden is nothing but a FRAUD!”

Fortunately, I know from experience that once the garden tour group arrives, all these fears will melt away. In the meantime, wasn’t that some Creeping Charlie over there?

34 Comments on “Garden Variety Anxiety

  1. So funny! You have a wonderful garden and if one Creeping Charlie dares to come out from hiding it will probably make everyone feel right at home. πŸ™‚

  2. Great blog–so funny. I wish our Wild Ones group was closer to Evanston–we would come over.

  3. Jason, REAL gardeners are the kindest, most forgiving and encouraging people on the planet. Wish I could see your garden on tour tomorrow, but I know you’ll be glowing from all the positive comments by tomorrow evening. Relax and take Judy out for dinner in the afterglow of another great garden tour!

  4. I’d love to come see your garden! If anyone were snooty within ear-shot, why I’d push a daylily flower up their nostrils πŸ™‚

  5. How funny we humans are: willing to open our gardens then terrified of what people might think! I should love to visit your garden and you should not care a jot. Good luck and enjoy !

  6. Ditto all the above. It’ll be fine and I’m sure your garden is definitely just great. Relax and enjoy it! Then have a large g&t (one whatever) afterwards.

  7. Good luck. There are always some odd visitors, but most understand that weeds appear out of nowhere, mulch is good, hard landscaping is best ‘rustic’ and recycling containers is a valid lifestyle choice! I would love to visit.

  8. I understand completely.
    Glad your sense of humour is firmly in place.
    But your garden, from all the evidence I’ve seen, looks great.
    ‘All shall be well, and … all manner of thing shall be well’.

  9. I was at Chanticleer yesterday. It was incredible and possibly the best garden I have ever visited. And yes, there were weeds…

  10. Oh goodness, how funny! Where do you find the pictures to illustrate your points? Love it and I would really LOVE to be on the Wild Ones tour tomorrow. Good luck and as someone else said, take Judy out for dinner afterwards and celebrate your hard work.

  11. What a funny way to start the day. I have had those fears myself I think that is why it strikes me as so funny. We do create our own monsters, however Creeping Charlie is a scourge. That is nothing made up. It is a real problem. Try to relax and enjoy the tour. I know everyone that comes through your garden will certainly enjoy it. It is a great inspiration in photos let alone seeing it in person. Peace…

  12. Thank you for the chuckle. And, I can only imagine that you will provide an oasis for all the visiting plant lovers. Looking forward to hearing all about the success of it, Creeping Charlie and all. πŸ™‚

  13. Your post made me chuckle. Like you, I am a first-class worrier, and I feel your pain. However, I am so envious of those lucky bunnies who will be touring your garden. I would love to be among them.

  14. Ooo–I wish I could see your garden in real life. Have fun, don’t worry–I’m sure you will inspire others!

  15. LOL! They are going to LOVE you garden. If I lived a thousand kilometres closer I’d come. They aren’t expecting professional ANYTHING.

  16. You’ve taken the thoughts right out of my head (slightly modified for your own situation). I’m opening for a tour in a couple of weeks and similar scenarios keep running through my head. Hope you have a wonderful time!

  17. I’m so sorry for your stress, but your post is a scream . . . and I totally get it. Whew! Just be careful of your “tells”: if someone is complimenting you on your Daylilies, don’t stare at the weed peeking out from under the paver right next to them as you’re nodding. Love the idea of “emergency annuals.” That’s what they’re for, isn’t it? (sorry Tammy). And if you’re still feeling anxious about how critical these people might be, just have a pitcher of Margaritas on hand for the visitors at the start–and have a glass yourself before they arrive. Enjoy the day!

  18. You know you’re going to have a wonderful day. Your visitors will love it — sorry I’m far away and cannot attend. Every time I’m feeling down about my garden I’ll reread this very funny post, so thanks!

  19. As we say…..Keep Calm and Carry On! Visitors couldn’t possibly be so rude as to point out your failures would they Jason? Your gardens are lovely and I’m sure no one will be disappointed. Enjoy the day πŸ™‚

  20. I can feel the anxiety, Jason. Been there, done that. I know the visitors will come away saying wonderful things to ease your pain. Have a great day.

  21. What a smile this brought to me – your best post ever, Jason! You are generous indeed for opening up your garden and sharing. I only wish I could be there as well.

  22. You are humble and self-deprecating to a fault, my funny friend. πŸ™‚ Your garden is wonderful and anyone who complains should be slapped, hard and repeatedly.

  23. Hi Jason, all that worry is for nothing as just from seeing the pictures, your garden is beautiful and gardeners are a kind and generous folk that understand just how much hard work goes into maintaining a garden and especially one that’s a bountiful and as filled as yours.

  24. You do make me laugh!!!! Having said that I would be exactly the same….
    I rather enjoy uneven stones and pavers , I think they look rustic and that always has a certain charm!
    Eyes will roll….let them! Good pots cost an arm and a leg! As for weeds, what garden doesn’t have them!!! Looking forward to the outcome!xxx

  25. I think we all wish we could see our gardens through other’s eyes. It’d be a lot less stressful. I bet your gardens looked great!

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