Trends ⅗ – Decluttering the Garden


Photo: from Marchand’s Yard, Container Garden winner from the Salisbury Yards, Contest 2017

Gardening Trends ⅗  – Decluttering the Garden
By: Rob Sproule

Marie Kondo’s Method
De-Cluttering the Garden
Back to Balance

“The best way to choose what to keep and what to throw away is to take each item in one’s hand and ask: “Does this spark joy?” If it does, keep it. If not, dispose of it.”
― Marie Kondō, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing

Marie Kondo’s Method:

Clutter happens. We live our lives, see things we love, buy, use, store, stuff, and shove it into the closet. Life accumulates, but it’s hard to have clarity in the midst of clutter. Once in a while, a purge feels darn good. In 2011, a Japanese organizing consultant published a little turquoise book that put her on course to becoming the world’s authoritative voice on how to tidy up. Marie Kondo’s method of defining your possessions by the sparks of joy they give us made her Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of 2015.

Kondo suggests starting with categories, not rooms. You’ll have books in several rooms, so bring them together. Lay your hands (literally) on each one. Which items give you a spark of joy? If yes, it stays to build the bookshelf that fills you with joy. If no, it goes. Her method is simple and a little brutal. My wife discovered Kondo last year and I was hooked.
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De-Cluttering the Garden:

Our yards are our sanctuary. They should be places of stillness that calm our minds after a long day in the hamster wheel. If the amount of stuff outdoors, living or non, is causing anxiety, it’s time to declutter. Let’s approach this as Kondo would. Take a tour through your differing garden spaces, or rooms, and lay your hands on every plant, pot, gnome, and rusty hoe lost in the weeds. Ask yourself: is this the source of a spark of joy for me? If it isn’t, it needs to go.

In the garden, of course, “go” is more complicated than a trip to Goodwill. Your clutter is rooted into the ground, and you probably don’t want to see it in the compost bin. Find friends, horticultural groups, and anyone else who would take your clutter and nurture it into their own sparks of joy. The goal? For every space in your yard to serve a purpose, and every plant and element to spark joy. Define your success by the calm joy you feel walking through the garden. Don’t fret if you’ve made empty spaces. Those are places to invent again and plant new sparks of joy.
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Back to Balance:

Unlike books, plants grow. They’re living sculptures. While this opens up new worlds in design, it also means that you can’t abandon a part of your yard and expect it to be the same when you return to it. De-cluttering is about creating simplicity. If it’s overgrown, cut it back or divide it. If you don’t love or need it, remove it. Respect your tools. Pick up, clean up, and store them neatly in the shed. Peek in the shed and roll up your sleeves.

It’s not about creating a sterile, manicured space, but bringing balance back to your outdoor space. If pruning isn’t your idea of balance, then identify the plants you love and let them grow wild. If you use pesticides and herbicides, stop so that nature’s rhythms can re-establish themselves.

Tidy gardens don’t look like Versailles. They’re spaces created consciously, that consume less, need spraying less, and are focused upon the joy you get from the plants you really love vs. all the plants you accumulate.

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