It’s a fact of life that everything worthwhile takes care and maintenance to stay healthy and beautiful. While there may be days when we wish we could wave a wand to make our home sparkling clean, the truth is that keeping a home running well takes time and effort. Having a beautiful pool means cleaning it regularly and treating it with products that keep the algae away, and even a man-made lake will require regular lake management in order to keep it looking and smelling clean. Nature Versus Nurture Our society has long gone back and forth between the idea of having systems that are orderly and well maintained, versus systems that are wild and organic, like writer Henry David Thoreau’s “Walden Pond.” In his writings, Thoreau followed the tenets of the transcendental movement, which believed that everything natural was good and healthy and that people and nature were in danger of being corrupted by society’s ideas of order. These ideas aligned with the Romantic movement of the time, which had an influence on everything from writing to styles of theater and even, yes, gardening. The romantic ideal influenced styles of gardening by promoting the idea that nature should not be interfered with. From this came many of the gardens of the 1800s that were overflowing with wild grasses and huge trees. These gardens didn’t feature well-manicured lawns and precise-looking flower beds, but instead had a flowing, natural quality that came from letting nature just “do its thing”.
The only problem, though, with letting nature have its way completely is that wildly overgrown plants can become heavy and unhealthy if they are never cut back. By the same token, bodies of water and even running fountains can become filled with algae if not maintained regularly. So, who wins the argument, nature versus nurture? Perhaps an even balance between the two ideas is really the best so that we can have gardens that look natural without getting completely wild. Healthy and natural seem to be the best solution for a garden that stays lovely for the long term.