The Moral Dilemma of a Messy Garden
October 9, 2009
Allan in Iris germanica, Musings on Gardening, Perennial Plants, messy gardens

This is a photo of the well tended Grey's Iris Garden in New Jersey. Click on the image to visit the site.

My front yard garden was messy. It had lost its curb appeal and there was nothing that I could do about it as long as I was tending to other people’s gardens. Today was the first time this season that I was able to tidy things up. The biggest culprits have been the perennials Iris Germanica. They were neglected for 4 years. Every third year they must be lifted, divided and replanted as smaller clumps. Otherwise, the plants get messy looking and the foliage lose the majesty that is demonstrated in the picture above.

My neighbors have seen the mess that neglected Irises create and they are not impressed. Yes, they ooo and aah when this plant is in bloom, but as soon as the flowers fade, so does their enthusiasm. Whenever I offer them my extra Iris clumps for their gardens they politely decline. One neighbor abhors anything that makes a garden messy and has been honest enough to confess that, when my garden is neglected, it’s too painful a sight for him to endure.

That raises a moral dilemma for the gardener. If poor curb appeal is disturbing to one's neighbors, is there an obligation for one to do something about it? In my case, the answer is yes. I have never gardened exclusively for my own pleasure, which is substantial. I enjoy sharing the results of my labor with others. Whenever my front yard garden is not looking its best, I am not being true to myself.

Article originally appeared on Garden Design, Montreal, Perennial Flower Gardens, Gardening Tips, Gardening Advice, Gardening Book Reviews (
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