neatness picture

Neatness passion

This all started when I was pulled up about the neatness of our front garden, or the lack of it. What constitutes acceptable and why are we so bothered about it. When it comes to weeds, ask any botanist and they can only tell you that a weed is a plant that we don't want. If you like native species such as dandelions, nettles, morning glory (bind weed), thistles etc. then they are not classified as weeds, but plants with their own beauty. I personally like the purple flowers on thistles and the spring yellow of the dandelions.

There is some sensible logic towards having things neat and tidy. The picture shows letters arranged neatly and in order, so that selecting them is quick and easy. Spending ages searching for tools in a cluttered cupboard is no fun. It adds a lot of time to the start of a job.

In nature, there are repeating patterns, but no real neatness. A tree is not neat, the branches are ad hoc. Rivers wind along rather than follow a dead straight course. Neither is there a uniformity to the skyline. Mountains, hills and valleys have no pattern.

Life is about compromise so we have divided the garden duties up. The front is kept in a semi-kempt fashion by one member of our household whilst I take care of the back garden. Over the past ten years I have done close to nothing. The plants grow and once at a certain height they fall over. They sort of disappear. No lawn mowing, no noisy strimming thus no hassle. I do have fruit trees as they require no maintenance, but provide a regular crop. I have lost count of how many will remark "when are you going to sort that mess out? " For an effortless area to sit in, I genuinely rather like it. In the summer it is full of wonders to watch. Moths, bees, and numerous insects have made a home here. Am I lazy or do we all have too great a passion for neatness is the question.

What about clearing rubbish, litter and decaying discarded items from the landscape? In this respect, I see the value of this kind of tidiness. Even if the junk is neatly stacked, it is not the same as the sight of plants thriving. Maybe this is derived from a fear of accidents or disease from the mould and rotting. Maybe people have a similar fear of being stung or caught in thorny overgrowth and that is what spurs them to obsess with fairy-tale regularised outdoor spaces.

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