how to declutter your garden

Since the new year, I keep coming across the word “declutter.” I find the phenomenon of cultural obsessions fascinating, more so than the obsession du jour itself. How does everybody get on board with any one idea in such a fragmented time? Is it force of personality? Brilliant marketing? Is it because so many things seem out of our control that the reassuring notion of controlling our cupboards and sock drawers is having its moment? We may not be able to agree collectively to act on the pressing, momentous issues of our time, but by god we can each individually get our own houses in order and at the very least sort out the spice shelf. I doubt I’ll buy the book or stream the show — and you should see my sock drawer — but it got me thinking about my very cluttered little garden and what, if anything, should be done about it.

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I’ve read that we are to keep items that “spark joy
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Boy, do I keep lots of sparks of joy around. Potted plants accumulate under tables and chairs
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potted plants hang from on high
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potted plants try their best to stay out of the pathways
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but they do take over tabletops
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potted plants want to be your drinking buddies — just mind your elbows!
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they relentlessly push into the garden
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they overrun the patio
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It’s fairly apparent you’ll get no help from me in decluttering your garden. Personally, I need all the sparks of joy I can find.

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Have a great weekend.

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11 Responses to how to declutter your garden

  1. Jane Strong says:

    I don’t think your garden is cluttered at all. I think it is very neatly arranged, everything in its very attractive proper place. Lovely pelargonium.

  2. Kris P says:

    I’m a relentless declutterer – so much so that my husband assumes that any thing he can’t find must have been chucked out in what he calls a “PP” (Peterson purge). However, applying the MK method to plants doesn’t work in my estimation. (Granted, I haven’t read her book or watched her series either.) I toss (or re-home) a plant only if it dies or fails to thrive after an honest effort to make the relationship work. I hold onto plants for their promise rather than their immediate impact. Your post had me looking into whether MK has addressed plants and the only reference I found cited the value she puts on buying fresh flowers so, thankfully, it appears she’s leaving plants and gardens alone, at least for now. Interestingly, I understand that her position on disposing of book collections sparked controversy and she backed off a statement that had suggested one limit oneself to 30 books. Apparently, “sparking joy” may have an open-ended time component when it comes to books and I’d hold the same is true of plants.

  3. hb says:

    That garden looks pretty darn joyful to me. I think you can keep it all. (We’ll leave a discussion of your sock drawer for another time.)

    Haven’t read the book or watched the stream. I’ve been decluttering some because of the remodel. It’s an ideal time.

    Have a great weekend–enjoy the wonderful rain!

  4. Looks pretty darn fabulous from where I sit. Of course you’re never going to get me to say there are too many containers.

  5. Nell says:

    This post, on top of being a lovely collection of images (as so often here) also made me laugh and laugh. Wheee. Hahh. {wipes away healing laugh-tears}

    It started when I briefly imagined each of the plants in the wire cage giving off the spark sound. Then it took hold as I began to scroll down, and by the time I got to the tidy assemblages by the chair, the imaginary sparking was sounding like a bride-of-Frankenstein lab. It just got funnier as it went on, all the more so because of how every single plant literally glows. Zzt! Zzzt!!

    Thanks for a doubly joyful tour through your backyard festival of beauty.

  6. Cortney D says:

    I’ve always been of the mind that minimalism is a trend that just doesn’t work in the garden… the whole point is bounty, displaying collections & treasures, and (sometimes overgrown) lushness! The only things that don’t bring me joy in the garden are weeds and I’m already getting rid of those! I love your pots under the chairs and I think your collection is fantastic.

  7. Renee says:

    If anyone ever told me to declutter my garden, I would tell them that nature abhors a vacuum, and the weeds that would show up definitely don’t spark joy. I’d rather garden with nature than with cultural trends!

  8. ks says:

    de-clutter will never happen in my garden, but instead I try to merchandise the clutter so it looks somewhat less like the back 40 at the garden center where they put all the stuff that has ‘gone over’. My goal for 2019 is to seek out 2 or 3 console type tables -most of my containers are on the ground.

  9. Hans Brough says:

    I do like MK’s idea of keeping those items in your life that ‘spark joy’ and to let the other things go with a ‘thank you’ for their service. But … the minimalism and meticulous folding of shirts / socks reminds me too much of the military and is not something I’d choose to bring wholesale to my garden. From what I’ve seen of other bloggers garden pics, a French or Italian Renaissance garden isn’t in style but… if they were then perhaps MK’s practices would work well. My take away – it’s ok to part with a few plants when they just aren’t ‘sparking joy’ like they used to – maybe a friend would love to have those same plants. The looser ‘cottage style’ gardens many grow are ever changing and some clutter probably even adds charm!

  10. Elaine says:

    I love the ‘spark joy’ comment as MK directs if it doesn’t spark joy when you hug it… Imagine hugging your cactus or agave to see what it ‘sparked’. Your garden especially the last photo is perfect. Wouldn’t change a thing.

  11. Denise says:

    @Jane, you are an unfailingly nice and polite person! That “cactus geranium,” Pelargonium echinatum, has faithfully returned from water-deprived summer dormancy for as far back as this blog goes — and that’s as far as my memory goes!
    @Kris, omg, don’t touch my plants or books!
    @Hoov, and lots of the “keepers” come from friends like you. I really was setting up a straw-man argument as far as decluttering for the garden and feel that those of us who prefer to live with lots of plants help offset those that don’t…
    @Loree, amen!
    @Nell, I wish you were at my elbow when I’m writing posts…I should have included a photo of Elsa Lanchester in Bride of Frankenstein.
    @thank you, Cortney!
    @I like your priorities, Renee.
    @Kathy, tables and benches, yes, more please.
    @Hans, I’ve read that MK was the terror of her family from a young age, organizing everyone’s stuff since she was school age. She’s definitely found her calling.
    @Elaine, I didn’t know about the hugging test. I do run my finger down cactus between the spines, agaves too — but that’s as close to hugging as I’ll go.

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