Are You Suffering From Garden Envy?

These Gardens Look Too Good To Be True

Hmmm...These Gardens Really Look Too Good To Be True

Do you ever find yourself looking at the glossy photos of lush, colorful, perfectly manicured gardens in gardening magazines such as Garden Design, Fine Gardening or Better Homes & Gardens and thinking…no matter what I do, my garden never looks like that?  Well, apparently, neither do those gardens!

I’d always assumed there was some creative editing happening in those photos, much like the way photos of models are often airbrushed or photoshopped to take off 10 pounds, but I never had confirmation until now. 

I was reading a post on Genevieve Schmidt’s blog, North Coast Gardening about organic gardening and learning to love what you have growing in your garden (think natives or regionally appropriate ornamentals) rather than using all sorts of chemicals to make your garden some kind of artificial environment to support plants that really should not be growing there.

As Genevieve was responding to comments readers (including me) had left on her blog, she mentioned Saxon Holt, a famous garden photographer, and how he readily admits that he has ‘stuffed’ gardens with container plants before a photo shoot.  Confirmation at last!  

Of course I jumped all over that comment and  Genevieve was kind enough to provide links to some of Saxon Holt’s comments about the topic.  You can find these links in the comments section of the post on the North Coast Gardening   blog but I thought I’d provide them here as well:

Amy Stewart on Garden Rant calls him out:

He responds with some good dish!:

And a favorite post of his that helped me “see” some better photos in my own gardens:


I hope you feel as enlightened, and vindicated, as I do!

4 thoughts on “Are You Suffering From Garden Envy?

  1. Yay, Debbie!! This is the thing I like best about blogging – everyone adding their own unique take on things!

    You are so right, “stuffed” gardens are totally like the models getting airbrushed for their Vogue shoot! (I saw a Cosmo once that had airbrushed out their cover model’s bellybutton! I thought to myself, if that’s what so much dieting does, I want no part of it!!)

    It can be particularly hard as a pro to help people have realistic expectations after seeing the magazine gardens. It can be a challenge to help people find the right balance between loads of flowers all the time and low-maintenance.

    • Genevieve,

      Missing bellybutton…maybe she looked perfect because she wasn’t human!

      I agree that it can be difficult to help clients understand the realities that go into maintaining many of the kinds of gardens that are so often featured in gardening magazines. Or to get them to appreciate that many of those gardens are mature and were planted years, if not decades ago.

      I would love to see an article in one of those magaznes that addresses the actual time and money that goes into maintaining the english border sytle gardens they seem to love to feature. That would be an eye-opener.

  2. Not surprized at all … how many times have you looked at a photo of a ‘perfect’ garden in what you know is deer country and seen ‘perfectly’ shaped and blooming deer candy. It’s much better to look at such photos as if they are paintings, created for the viewers’ pleasure. I decided long ago that getting my gardens to a point where I’m happy is good enough.

Please Feel Free to Comment, I'd Love to Hear From You...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s