How important are aesthetics?

Last month I was revelling in parts of the garden looking like a French impressionist painting.  Round the edges where I really can let it do its own thing there was self seeded honesty beside planted erysimum and euphorbia mingling beautifully together; and in the veggie patches field beans plus self seeded forget me nots and aquilegia blended together blues, deep reds, mauve and pink.  The pictures below were the best I could get to capture this effect, as the camera seemed to pick up imperfections much more clearly than my eye.



Now, however all those gorgeous spring flowers are over and there is an aftermath of wobbly seed heads and awkward dying sprigs.  As one of my main aims is to garden using the least possible energy and intervention I deal with these by pulling up the dead / dying plants and just dropping them to the ground where they grew.  I have been doing this for ages and it works really well to save labour and to build up fertility, but it does not exactly look pretty.  So one week all is beautiful and a few weeks later that has given way to something that is much less easy to appreciate aesthetically.

 Despite the good reasons for doing what I do I still find myself, very much against my will and better judgement feeling awkward, aware of others’ opinions and that they will not understand what’s going on here just by looking.  It is only by doing something differently that you get to see how well and truly programmed you are to go with the flow. 

I know I have a healthy, productive, eco friendly garden and that really is the most important thing.  However even aesthetically all is not lost as the recently removed plants have been growing round established perennials – Jerusalem artichokes, yacon, oca and others.  I know that in time two things will happen.  The pulled up plants will decay really quickly and the perennials will grow rapidly and hide them.  The photos below were taken in July and September last year and show something similar happening really well. 

Between the plants are prunings from  a nearby bush chopped up small:

These are the same plants the other way up – the kale is a bit dog eared and the oca have grown over all the mulch.


About Anni Kelsey

I love forest gardens and forest gardening, nature, reading and everything good about being alive. I have written two books - the garden of equal delights (2020) - about the principles and practice of forest gardening; and Edible Perennial Gardening (2014) - about growing perennial vegetables in polycultures, which is basically forest gardening concentrating on the lower layers.
This entry was posted in Forest Gardening, Perennial Vegetables, Permaculture, Polycultures, Telford Garden and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to How important are aesthetics?

  1. Pingback: Forming a relationship with the garden | Anni's perennial veggies

  2. Pingback: Building a relationship with the garden | Anni's perennial veggies

  3. Helen says:

    My garden looks its prettiest late May and early June. Then like yours, untidy. its appearance not helped by how dry North East London is. This year I really want to get more things flowering mid to late summer and into the autumn as I have been very successful encouraging the insects, particularly bumble bees, and don’t want to let them down now!


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