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Gardening Answers Knowledgebase

Knowledgebase record #289

The Carefree Garden by Bill Terry, 2015

Reviewed by: Brian Thompson
Review date: 2017-04-01

The Carefree Garden cover

Upon retirement at age 57, Bill Terry told his friends that he wanted to use his extra time to create the perfect garden. He already had a site. Although at the time he and his wife lived in eastern Canada, they owned property on British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast.

“The Carefree Garden” is the story of making that property into a garden. He quickly discovered this wasn’t a solo effort. “We should not resist being directed by Nature to some extent. We can let her own a part of the garden, even control a majority share.”

“Mother,” as he affectionately calls nature, is an equal partner in this story. Typically, she speaks to him through a Steller’s jay and she has a lot to say – mostly telling him all the things he’s doing wrong.

This whimsy is very engaging and many long-time gardeners will have practiced their own version (I have), but this book is also very practical. Terry is fond of simplicity, concentrating on native plants, starting his plant introductions from seeds, and using only the simple, species forms when introducing exotics. His useful list of ninety-nine perennials that thrive in our climate are almost all species, many of them native.

He concludes that the perfect garden is “…like the end of the rainbow, that never can be reached. I wouldn’t know what to do if I did—reach it.” I think most avid gardeners would agree.

Excerpted from the Spring 2017 Arboretum Bulletin.

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