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Garden Design

My madness monologues

Tammy Schmitt

Tammy Schmitt

April 3, 2015

When I was a kid my mother, who was a nurse, kept a copy of the Merck Manual on her desk. At over 4,000 pages, it housed a diagnosis for everything that ailed you. If your problem wasn’t in the Merck, it was all in your head. But even the Merck has its limits. Despite reaching epidemic proportions every winter and spring, Geospatial Gardening Disorder has yet to be included.

car with plants

I suppose tying the children to the roof instead of the plants would be considered poor taste…


As defined by me, Geospatial Gardening Disorder is diagnosed by the delusion that you actually have room in your garden for all the plants you’ve purchased. Symptoms of full blown GSGD manifest themselves through pacing about the garden with plant/seed catalogs or a laptop in tow and frustrated muttering that if only the afflicted were able to move the property stakes over an extra 40 feet or so, they could annex their garden for free. Missing chunks of lawn and numerous large boxes marked Live Plants! signal the severity of the disease. But be careful! Should you stage an intervention and attempt treatment without the help of a trained professional you risk angering a person well equipped to use a shovel and dig large holes. Chances are, no one will miss you. Consider yourself warned.

Resistance is futile.

Resistance is futile.


Having gone undiagnosed for years, I’ve developed a variety of coping skills to help me deal with this fabulous affliction. But the only one that is mildly effective is the employment of the Voice of Reason. I do not like the Voice of Reason.

Rock, paper and scissors give up for the day.

Rock, paper and scissors give up for the day.


I recently became convinced my overstuffed garden had room for a giant pincushion flower (cephalaria gigantea). However, the Voice of Reason, a nasty beast if there ever was one, did not agree. Much arguing commenced and after a few frustrated shouts of, “Giant is not Swahili for ‘Yes, this will fit in your garden’ ” I reluctantly accepted defeat. But during a recent daylily buying bender, I turned the voice off and went shopping. Unsupervised is not a wise choice for me.


However, by the next morning, I had some explaining to do:

VoR: I can’t believe you bought more daylilies! These are on your Do Not Buy list because you have so many. As a matter of fact, you gave away arm loads of them recently.

Me: Because they’re orange and purple and fragrant and have cool names.

VoR: Please tell me you didn’t buy these because of their names.

Me: Imagine the entire US/Canadian border crowded with people yelling ,”Halt! I have a daylily!”. I had no choice.

Early October 2014

Early October 2014


But occasionally, I’m able to persuade the Voice of Reason that a purchase isn’t just necessary, but absolutely vital. When part of my rain garden became engulfed in native blue mist flower and tiny frost asters I knew salvation would lie in ripping out swaths of blue fluffy flowers and replacing them with rudbeckia seedlings, actea ‘Black Negligee’, and pink lobelia ‘Monet’s Moment’.

From left to right - Actea 'Black Negligee (cimicifuga), rudbeckia 'Goldsturm', lobelia 'Monet's Moment', blue mist flower, and pink chelone 'Hot Lips'. I love my mist flowers so I saved a chunk growing near the chelone.

From left to right – Actea ‘Black Negligee (cimicifuga), rudbeckia ‘Goldsturm’, lobelia ‘Monet’s Moment’, blue mist flower, and pink chelone ‘Hot Lips’. I love my mist flowers so I saved a chunk growing near the chelone.


As I paced the garden muttering to myself, I negotiated moving the native asters to another spot and filling the empty hole with as much lobelia as I could. I could feel the opposition rising like bubbles to the surface as the Voice of Reason countered my move.

VoR: That’s a lot of pink.

Me: That’s the point.

VoR: At least it’s not a giant daylily.


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helen mckerral
helen mckerral
8 years ago

Haha, Tammy! My reasoning is: Gardens are like Doctor Who’s Tardis… there is ALWAYS room for one more plant! 🙂

Adele Kellett
Adele Kellett
8 years ago

Tammy, people who truly love gardening will never listen to the Voice of Reason. And that’s great. Otherwise you would get bored with just watching the garden getting old… I’m all for gardens that grow old while unashamedly, and sometimes disgracefully, indulging in new temptations.

Angus Stewart
8 years ago

Tammy, I am sure Charles Darwin would also have a useful contribution to make. I often see gardens as a perfect environment for natural selection to work its magic!