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Letting Go, Even in Your Yard

Why Ditching Plants May be the Best Thing for Your Garden


A few years ago while visiting Walden Pond, I bought a bumper sticker that said, “LET GO — Attachment is Suffering.” I’m not sure if ole Henry David actually said that, but it sounded good, and I slapped it on my work truck. I also purchased a small purple sticker that exclaimed, “God Bless the Freaks,” but I’m pretty certain that Thoreau didn’t come up with that one.

For the last few years, I’ve noticed a movement in this country against accumulating an abundance of “stuff.” This has been supported by an avalanche of self-help books such as Clutter Free: Quick and Easy Steps to Simplifying Your Space and IHeart Organizing. Personally, I’ve bypassed all this organizing by not getting stuff to begin with. And the stuff that I do have, well, IHeart it and want to keep it.

Recently, I was thinking about how this “letting go” ideology can be applied to gardening. I’ve noticed that when folks get an orchid, poinsettia, or other gift plant, they just don’t know what to do with it after it’s done blooming. They seem to feel guilty about discarding the plant, so most times they’ll put it outside in the sun where it burns up or gets lost in the hedges.

I’ve recognized a similar situation with indoor plants. When houseplants get tired or unwieldy, sometimes they get planted in the yard. A ficus tree in your den may be a good way to bring a little nature into your home, but plant one in your yard and your kids will soon be building a tree house in it. Randomly planting spent or overgrown houseplants into your garden is a good way to have a garden that looks, well, random and unplanned.

I have the perfect, guilt-free solution to all of this: Let go, and put your tired, your poor, your huddled masses of indoor and gift plants into the green bin. Yes, that green recycling bin where the contents will be chipped and shredded and returned to you as a healthful, soil-building amendment. It’s part of the gardening circle of life, and it’s okay.

And I can’t help thinking that if this catches on, maybe books such as If It Ain’t Green, It Shouldn’t Be Seen and It’s Not a Sin to Toss It in the Bin or even Chip & Shredder: You’ll Feel Better will soon be available to inspire letting go in the garden.



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