My Wabi-Sabi Gardens

Instead of making unrealistic resolutions at the first of the year, the new challenge is to find one word to focus on.  One word that tells people who you want to be or how you want to live.  Some common words chosen, for example, are courage, persevere, and strong.    A few weeks ago, I found a word and realized this is the perfect word for me (and fun to say!) and what I needed to focus on for the year.

Wabi-sabi (侘寂) is a concept in traditional Japanese aesthetics constituting a world view centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete.

Social media gives me the opportunity to show only the best flower or vegetable in my garden.  In reality though, this is not so.  Imperfection, flawed beauty, and shortcomings abound all around me and I’ve got to learn to be ok with that.   

When you see holes in your passionflower leaf, the gulf fritillary caterpillars have arrived. Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) is a native vine that has a spiritual meaning.

For any person who has strived to grow organically (as I do), imperfection is actually quite common.  My tomatoes might have crack or two and my peppers will most likely be misshapen but I can assure you, the flavor is unmatched.  I have strived to create an environment on my farm where bees forage on healthy flowers, butterflies can lay eggs on chemical-free plants, and beneficial bugs help fight the bad bugs.  This means I will probably have holes in my foliage, Bermuda grass as a ground cover, and a bug or two (or twenty) to deal with.



For personal likes, I have been practicing wabi-sabi my whole life as I am naturally drawn to old, worn, chipped and rusty things.  I love a good flea market find, dilapidated barns and houses, and heaven help me if I see a piece of furniture with chippy paint.  The imperfection makes it more interesting for me and I love incorporating some of these finds in my garden.

My rusted teapot I found at my recycling center planted with sedums.

Wabi-sabi almost sounds like an excuse to let my garden get out of hand, and I’m sure that is not what the true meaning is about.   I can assure you I will be fighting the bermuda grass and bugs this summer, but I vow I will not let those imperfections define me as a gardener.

mexican sunflower and monarch

So, as I venture through 2018, my type-A personality will strive to embrace the mantra of wabi-sabi in the garden the best I can.  Where imperfection is accepted and shortcomings are not dwelled upon.


About the blonde gardener

I'm an Arkansas girl born and raised. I garden in the beautiful Northwest part of the state (zone 6b or 7) surrounded by the Ozark Mountains. My favorite part about the area is we have 4 distinct seasons and are able to enjoy a variety of activities. My main passion is gardening but I also enjoy hiking, birding, 4-wheeling and motorcycle trips. Basically anything outside. Thanks for stopping by! Brenda
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7 Responses to My Wabi-Sabi Gardens

  1. Dawn says:

    Oh, Brenda! I love the idea of a Wabi-Sabi garden! Embracing the imperfect can be a real challenge for those of us who are perfectionists. We must be kindred spirits, for I am also drawn to old things, timeworn and chippy. They each tell a story and that’s what makes them beautiful to me!

    Brenda, I think you would love the book I am reading (again!). Wabi-Sabi Welcome, by Julie Pointer Adams, encourages us to embrace the imperfections in our homes and to entertain thoughtfully and with ease. It’s just the push I need to invite friends over now, rather than wait until all of the house projects are complete. (It’s that perfectionist thing again!)

    It makes me smile to know that I have a Wabi-Sabi garden, too! I’m waiting for the snow to melt and for my garden to gently stir with the first signs of Spring. I love learning from you, Brenda! Have a great weekend! 💗


    • Perfectionist here 🙋🏼‍♀️too. Maybe it’s my age, but I really don’t care if you see dust on my shelf or a weed in my garden. I’m going to enjoy it for what it is. Bottom line: it makes me happy.
      I will definitely check out this book. Thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Type A, huh? You are going to struggle with accepting the imperfect. Just sayin’…


  3. bittster says:

    Haha, what a great way to look at things. I do tend to get a little overly controlling but remind myself to take a breath and just let it go. Sometimes I even like to flaunt a mess just to show how far I’ve come!


  4. Ali says:

    This is a wonderful post. There is beauty in imperfection, decay and difference. I have scheduled a post for Weds on this topic!


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