in Artificial Intelligence, Thoughts

Wrangling AI: How I Turned ChatGPT into My Creative Sidekick for Garden Design

“Are you crazy, nobody uses ChatGPT like that, you know that right?” Mark said as we sat in the pub. I took a sip of cold crisp beer, slightly puzzled. I thought about how I’d been using generative AI to change my life recently. How I had used it to build a zen-like focus-point around a huge Japanese Acer in my garden. “Surely everyone uses it like that, isn’t it obvious?” I said, feeling slightly self-conscious. I hesitated. Should I tell him how I had also spent all evening talking to ChatGPT coming up with ideas for a cottage garden? It had factored in thousands of different plants that would make even Monty Don drop his trowel in surprise. That was when it struck me that most people use ChatGPT like Google. They punch in a prompt pieced together from some cheat sheet they found on social media and watch it spew out information like a hot bubbling volcano of knowledge, before copying and pasting the answer and never to give it a second thought. For me, this was a bit like using an expensive Macbook Pro laptop as a tea tray. Sure, it works and it’s useful to some degree, but there is so much untapped power in this method of computing, and by method, I mean “conversational intelligence” computing.

Steve Jobs famously once compared the computer to a bicycle for the mind — for its efficiency in propelling humans to where they wanted to go. I would be so bold as to say, extending this analogy… That AI is a motorcycle for the mind.

I want to share with you the unique strategies and practical tips I’ve discovered along the way in areas such as coding, personal learning, creative design, and conflict resolution to name just a few. With such a vast scope of possibilities, there is a lot of ground to cover. So, through a series of blog posts, I intend to share these along with my thought processes that you can use today to elevate your ChatGPT experience and help you unlock its full potential. Get ready to take your AI “wrangling” skills to the next level and learn to drive the motorcycle for your mind. The only limit is your imagination… Oh and how many messages you’re allowed to send in an hour!

Exploring Tomorrow: The Potential of Conversational AI

Now, before I reveal how I designed my garden, first let’s start off with a vision of the future since every journey needs a destination, every adventure into the unknown needs a heading. I know many people have been making AI comparisons to the widely recognised award-winning film Her but there is an even more ambitious utopian vision of AI – Star Trek. Wait don’t tap back yet! Now I realise talking about Star Trek may turn many of you off but please bear with me for a moment before we get to the detail and a real-world example of how AI can improve your life. Star Trek was a TV show I think many people would agree predicted or even inspired tablets such as the iPad, personal communication devices such as the iPhone and I believe it equally predicted conversational computing.

Like many technology enthusiasts, I grew up watching Star Trek: The Next Generation. The ship’s computer, which responded to simple queries and facilitated complex problem-solving, always fascinated me. It responded to simple queries such as “Where is Captain Picard?” or “What program is currently running in the holodeck?” which could be compared to Siri or Alexa in today’s terms on levels of complexity and usability. However, the show also presented incredibly intricate demonstrations of the computer’s power and capabilities of human-level understanding, reasoning and problem solving. Often with the crew engaging in elaborate queries, making the computer meticulously cross-reference multiple aspects of data, building upon them, and manipulating the results – ruling out items based on specific criteria told to it, before finally arriving at the destination. Watch the clip to get a better understanding, you only need to watch 30 seconds of it but you should watch it for seeing where we’re trying to go!

The above video clip is perhaps a little cheesy out of context but a great example of conversational intelligence computing. Arguably it’s largely used as a plot device to progress the story and accelerate any science. Imagine two scientists working this using traditional office apps and GUIs (think endless clicking, dragging and typing). They’d likely spend a significant amount of time building pivot tables in spreadsheets, organizing data, creating formulas, and sorting through information. Then, just when they believe they’re on the brink of a breakthrough, they find themselves embroiled in a new battle: wrestling with PowerPoint in Microsoft Office to make that perfect graph legible on a slide! And let’s not even mention the ‘fun’ of deciding whether the XY scatter chart should be 3D or not. Meanwhile, in the episode, Geordie and the ship’s computer work out the answer they need in a mere 2 minutes of casual conversing.

The Pitch – Unleashing the Power of Conversational AI

Now speeding up the plot in a TV show is one thing but imagine the impact of conversational intelligence computing on real-world data calculations and problem-solving. The efficiency with which Geordie and the ship’s computer arrive at the answer demonstrates the transformative potential of such technology. In a traditional setting, the process might be a laborious time-consuming process. A conversational AI streamlines this process, enabling users to explore data, analyse information, and uncover insights through natural language. This however is only a limited way of solving a problem. I recently had the realisation that most problems humans encounter don’t require advanced calculations and formulas. The reality is most of our problems can be expressed in terms of objects (such as people and things) and how they interrelate (relationships, values and what they mean such as cause and effect etc). The unrealised benefit of conversational AIs is that they understand these ideas and concepts since many of them are built into what we consider as “natural language”. How do they do this? Well, just as we build mental models to make sense of the world, AI models create their own kind of “mental model” in the form of a high-dimensional space. In this space, each word or phrase the model knows is represented as a point. The closer together two points are, the more similar the model thinks those words or phrases are. This high-dimensional space is how the model ‘understands’ the relationships between different words and phrases. By ‘thinking’ in this space, the model can generate responses that make sense given the input it’s received.

The Theory – How Generative AIs Learn

Take for instance the phrase “turning the handle of the door” – you need to understand doors have handles and that handles turn. The AI does this too, by mapping these concepts in its high-dimensional space. You might not know how to turn it but if you read it enough times, you’d realise the relationship that exist between them. You might not even know what turning was or even what a door was, but you’d know it was a verb and a noun respectively from the sentence’s structure so that given a door, you could expect a handle and that handles turn. Then you might read about doors being on a house and associate a house with doors, etc. That’s largely how generative AIs “learn”. Not only that but they can be used to build up incredibly advanced queries though a simple back and forth in normal conversation. Advanced calculations, relationships and processes can be expressed in a couple of phrases significantly reducing the time and effort required. Now, what if I told you that the Star Trek vision is achievable today. That ChatGPT can be used in this way right now! It might sound like I’m indulging in the AI hyperbole, but trust me, we’re about to shift gears from theory to practicality.

A Complete Walkthrough: Designing a Garden with an AI Horticultural Expert

Please be aware, this walkthrough is very long and comprehensive. I’ve spared no detail, at the request of friends and people I’ve talked about AI to. Feel free to scroll past the chats but the end has some closing thoughts that may be worth reading.

It started simply enough. I fired up a web-browser one evening, navigated to ChatGPT. Anyone can sign-up for free to get started and in minutes you could be asking advanced generative AI questions about anything you want. That night, I stared at the screen and asked it a simple question. Was it up to the challenge?


Do you have the knowledge of gardening but also garden fashion e.g. which plants work well together and in which environment?

I was using GPT-4, the paid version of ChatGPT and as I watched it plod along writing, it reminded me of some sage wizard. Slower than the GPT-3.5 version everyone else was using but somehow more knowledgeable and wiser. Perhaps I was just personifying it too much. I wasn’t expecting much, but my jaw soon hit the floor when I saw its response.


Yes, I have knowledge about gardening and garden design, including which plants work well together and in different environments. Here are some general guidelines for combining plants and designing gardens based on their aesthetics and growing conditions:

  1. Color schemes: Consider the color scheme of your garden when selecting plants. Complementary colors, like red and green or blue and orange, can create a vibrant look, while analogous colors (colors adjacent to each other on the color wheel) can create a more harmonious feel.

  2. Plant heights: Use plants of varying heights to create visual interest and depth in your garden. Place taller plants at the back of a border and shorter plants toward the front. This can help create a sense of depth and structure.

  3. Plant textures: Combine plants with different textures to add variety and interest. For example, you can mix plants with large, bold leaves (like hostas or elephant ears) with those that have feathery or delicate foliage (like ferns or ornamental grasses).

  4. Seasonal interest: Choose plants that provide interest throughout the year, such as those with attractive flowers, foliage, fruit, or bark. This will ensure that your garden looks attractive in all seasons.

  5. Environmental conditions: Select plants that are well-suited to the specific conditions of your garden, such as the amount of sunlight, soil type, and climate. This will help ensure that your plants thrive and look their best.

Some popular plant combinations that work well together include:

  1. Hostas and ferns: These shade-loving plants have contrasting textures and create a serene woodland feel.

  2. Lavender and roses: The fragrant combination of lavender and roses creates a romantic, cottage-style garden. Both plants prefer well-drained soil and full sun.

  3. Ornamental grasses and coneflowers: This pairing combines the structural interest of grasses with the colorful flowers of coneflowers (Echinacea spp.). Both plants are drought-tolerant and thrive in full sun.

  4. Salvia and daylilies: These sun-loving perennials offer long-lasting color and attract pollinators. They work well together in a border or mixed garden bed.

  5. Succulents and cacti: These plants are perfect for xeriscaping or low-water gardens, and their unique shapes and textures create an interesting visual display.

Remember, it's essential to consider the specific conditions of your garden and choose plants that will thrive in that environment. Feel free to ask for more specific advice or plant recommendations based on your garden's conditions.

I’d half-expected ChatGPT to give me some generic boiler-plate response asking me to consult a gardening expert. So, this felt like stumbling upon buried treasure! As someone who grew up around plants having a florist for a mother, I knew my Geraniums from my Chrysanthemums. However, anyone who’s ever casually watched a gardening programme like Gardners’ World will know there is a lot to consider – soil, sun, flowering times, colours, and that’s even before considering watering requirements and where to put the things! The idea that someone could give me personalised advice for colour schemes, textures and more as easy as having a conversation and for as long as I wanted was somewhat mind-blowing.

Detail – Being specific and asking for advice

Best of yet, there were no silly questions. I could ask it anything and not have to worry about asking something obvious. I thought about the flower bed I wanted to work on. It already had some striking plants in it. I didn’t know what they were, but I was pretty sure I could find out! My general thought process was to just give ChatGPT all the information and let it figure out the rest so my detail may seem obsessive but often the devil is in the detail. I wanted to paint it a picture and let it do its work.


The soil is clay and sometimes can get water logged in heavy storms. I have some lavender and some blue-tinted grasses as well as a shrub that has blue flowers and a sweet scent like perfume. I also have a terracotta pot of lemon balm and another shrub that has silvery leaves with daisy-like flowers. What would you recommend for this flower bed? You can change anything you like. As the bed has an onion weed problem I will be putting a weed sheet down with wood bark down.


Considering your garden conditions and the plants you already have, I would recommend making a few adjustments to create a cohesive and attractive flower bed that can also tolerate clay soil and occasional waterlogging.

  1. Amend the soil: Start by improving the soil's drainage and structure by incorporating organic matter, such as compost or well-rotted manure. This will help alleviate waterlogging issues and make the soil more hospitable for a wider variety of plants.

  2. Choose plants that tolerate clay soil and occasional waterlogging: Although lavender prefers well-drained soil, some varieties can tolerate clay soil if it's been amended. However, if your lavender is struggling, you might consider replacing it with another fragrant plant that tolerates these conditions better, such as swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata), which also attracts pollinators. Blue-tinted grasses like blue fescue (Festuca glauca) or blue oat grass (Helictotrichon sempervirens) can also tolerate clay soil.

  3. Complement existing plants: To complement the blue-flowering shrub and the silvery-leaved shrub with daisy-like flowers, consider adding plants with similar color schemes and contrasting textures. For example, you could add:

    • Russian sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia): With its silvery foliage and spikes of blue flowers, Russian sage is a drought-tolerant plant that can handle clay soil.
    • Globe thistle (Echinops ritro): This plant has striking blue, globe-shaped flowers and can tolerate clay soil. It adds an interesting texture to the garden and attracts pollinators.
    • Japanese iris (Iris ensata): Japanese iris can tolerate clay soil and occasional waterlogging. It has attractive, large blue, purple, or white flowers that would complement your existing plants.
    • Astilbe: These plants produce feathery, plume-like flowers in various colors (white, pink, red, or purple) and can tolerate clay soil and some moisture. Astilbe would provide a contrasting texture and a pop of color in your flower bed.
  4. Address the onion weed problem: It's great that you plan to use a weed sheet and wood bark to help control onion weed. Make sure the weed sheet allows for water and air circulation to prevent any issues with root rot or suffocation for your plants. Also, be diligent about removing any onion weed that emerges through the sheet to prevent it from reestablishing in your flower bed.

  5. Container plants: Lemon balm can be invasive, so it's good that you have it in a terracotta pot. You can keep it in the pot or transplant it to the ground if you're willing to manage its spread. If you decide to keep it in the pot, you can add other container plants to create a layered effect. For example, you could add pots with blue or purple flowering plants like salvia or dwarf delphinium that can tolerate clay soil to complement your existing color scheme.

Remember to choose plants that are well-suited to your specific garden conditions and monitor their health to ensure they're thriving in their environment.

I watched as it reeled though all my points and more, in a matter of seconds. I realised some of the plants seemed a bit different from local plants I knew about so I thought it was best to tell ChatGPT where I’m located.

Filtering and Finding – Identifying Mystery Plants with AI

While I was there, I really wanted to know what the existing plant was that I couldn’t identify. As GPT-4 (the paid-for version of ChatGPT) was limited by how many queries I could ask it, I often “doubled up” with the statements and queries in one “prompt”.


What is the slivery leafed shrub most likely called? Btw I am in the south east of England


Based on your description of the silvery-leaved shrub with daisy-like flowers, it is likely a Brachyglottis 'Sunshine' (formerly known as Senecio 'Sunshine'). This evergreen shrub is native to New Zealand but has become popular in the UK for its attractive silvery foliage and bright yellow, daisy-like flowers. Brachyglottis 'Sunshine' is well-suited to the climate in the southeast of England, as it can tolerate a wide range of soil types and conditions, including clay soil. It is also drought-tolerant and relatively low-maintenance, making it a great choice for many gardens.


Would you amend there plant combinations now you know where it is located?


Now that I know your garden is located in the southeast of England, I will adjust the plant recommendations accordingly. The climate in this region is generally temperate, with mild winters and moderate rainfall, which is suitable for many plants.

Here are some plant combinations that would work well in your flower bed:

  1. Keep Brachyglottis 'Sunshine': This silvery-leaved shrub with yellow daisy-like flowers is well-suited to your region, as it can tolerate a wide range of soil types and conditions, including clay soil. It provides year-round interest with its evergreen foliage.

  2. Blue-flowering shrub: If your blue-flowering shrub with a sweet scent is Ceanothus (California lilac), it should work well in your region, as it can tolerate clay soil and is hardy in most parts of the UK. If you don't already have Ceanothus, you might consider adding it for its attractive blue flowers and fragrance.

  3. Add compatible plants: To complement your existing plants, consider adding the following:

    • Hardy geraniums (Cranesbill): These perennials offer a wide range of flower colors, including blue, purple, pink, and white. They are low-maintenance and can tolerate clay soil.
    • Heuchera: With their colorful foliage, heucheras provide year-round interest and can tolerate clay soil. They are available in various shades of green, purple, bronze, and silver, which would complement your existing plants.
    • Euphorbia: These plants have unusual, long-lasting flowers and can tolerate clay soil. They are available in various sizes and forms, with some varieties like Euphorbia characias subsp. wulfenii having blue-green foliage that would work well with your color scheme.
    • Hellebores: These shade-tolerant plants bloom in late winter to early spring and can tolerate clay soil. They are available in various colors, including white, pink, purple, and green, and would provide interest during a time when few other plants are blooming.
  4. Address the onion weed problem: Continue with your plan to use a weed sheet and wood bark to help control onion weed. Make sure the weed sheet allows for water and air circulation to prevent any issues with root rot or suffocation for your plants. Also, be diligent about removing any onion weed that emerges through the sheet to prevent it from reestablishing in your flower bed.

  5. Container plants: Keep your lemon balm in its terracotta pot to prevent it from becoming invasive. You can also add other container plants, such as lavender (if it struggles in your clay soil), to create a layered effect and complement the color scheme of your flower bed.

Remember to monitor the health of your plants and adjust their care as needed to ensure they thrive in their environment.

I must admit I was surprised. Had the AI just filtered out and found plants for the lovely Blity martime climate so typical of rainy old England in a single line? I quickly Googled Brachyglottis and I was pleasantly surprised to see its familiar silvery leaves with the happy little yellow daisy-like flowers that had revealed themselves last summer. I smiled, it reminded me of that famous Sherlock Holmes quote – Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth. I’d found the plant and only in a couple of sentences. Awesome work SherlockGPT!

Visualising – Painting a Picture with Words

Being a visually oriented person, I reached a point where I needed a more viseral perspective. I wanted to remove a mental layer – the Latin names of the plants, while useful, were somewhat getting in the way of my ability to imagine the rich colours, textures and smells of the garden. I know this might sound unusual, considering we’re dealing with text. However, I wanted to envision what my visitors would experience as they walked past the flower bed by my front door.


What is the look you are aiming for with this bed? Can you describe it for me from the perspective of someone who doesn't know about garden plant names viewing the garden on a warm summers day?


The look I'm aiming for with this flower bed is a harmonious, inviting, and visually appealing garden that combines various colors, textures, and heights to create interest and depth. This design also considers the specific growing conditions of your garden in the southeast of England, including clay soil and occasional waterlogging.

Imagine someone who doesn't know about garden plant names viewing this garden on a warm summer's day:

As they walk by, the first thing they notice is the captivating scent of the blue-flowering shrub, reminiscent of sweet perfume. The vibrant blue flowers contrast beautifully with the silvery foliage of the nearby shrub, which is adorned with cheerful, bright yellow daisy-like flowers. The combination of blue and yellow flowers creates a striking yet harmonious color palette.

Their eyes are drawn to the different textures in the garden, from the bold and glossy leaves of the blue-flowering shrub to the soft, silvery foliage of the yellow-flowering shrub. They also notice the interesting foliage of other plants, such as the ruffled, colorful leaves of heucheras and the delicate, palmate leaves of hardy geraniums.

The garden bed is full of life, buzzing with pollinators attracted by the nectar-rich flowers. The observer can't help but feel a sense of tranquility and delight as they take in the rich tapestry of colors, textures, and fragrances.

In the foreground, a collection of terracotta pots adds an additional layer of interest, with one pot containing lemon balm, its bright green leaves releasing a fresh, citrusy scent when brushed against. The other pots host plants with flowers that harmonize with the existing color scheme, creating a cohesive and well-designed garden bed.

Overall, the flower bed exudes a sense of charm and serenity, inviting the viewer to linger and enjoy the beauty of the garden on a warm summer's day.

Wow! I was taken back. With a simple question phrased in the right way, ChatGPT was describing in detail my future garden using all the alluring imagery of a descriptive writing author in the throes of a dream-like sensory experience. I had to admit, this got me excited for the possibilities. My mind danced with so many ideas, eager to get ChatGPT to play with items, swapping out plants, trying different pots and colour schemes… Essentially painting a scene with nothing but sweet, beautiful words. It was a book geeks paradise. It was also amazing, as a programmer I thought about the complexity needed to code something similar just to produce that response – the huge variation of words needed, all the different ways of making it flow naturally without making the generated text sound like it was produced from a template. Most programmers think writing relative date libraries (that annoying time thing on Instagram where it says 4 hours ago instead of the date) is a good challenge as it involves lots of time calculations and working out if the hour should be plurals or not, etc. This was a completely different level, it was simply staggering.

Wrangling – Getting the best out of generative AI

Eager to expand upon my initial results, I wanted to explore different options, I wanted to fine-tune the output and really unleash the creativity this AI was opening up for me. Best of yet I had a gardening expert I could bounce ideas off and query their thought process.

I love the smell of lemon balm, the citrusy green leaves that look like mint but I wondered if it was just sticking to that option as I had mentioned it earlier. I was also curious what style it was intending to use for my garden and the messages below are a great example of wrangling – finding out the details and iterating on them.


Would you keep the lemon balm or put something more interesting in it? Also are you aiming for a cottage garden or something else?


Based on the plant combinations and overall aesthetic, the design leans more towards a cottage garden style, characterized by a mix of colors, textures, and informal planting arrangements. However, it also incorporates some elements of a more modern, low-maintenance garden with a focus on foliage and texture.

As for the lemon balm, whether to keep it or replace it with something more interesting depends on your personal preferences and the overall design goals for your garden. Lemon balm has its benefits, such as its pleasant citrusy scent and culinary uses. However, if you're looking to create more visual interest or tie the container plants better into the cottage garden aesthetic, you might consider replacing the lemon balm with one or more of the following:

  1. Nemesia: This annual produces masses of small, fragrant flowers in a range of colors, including blue, purple, pink, and white. Nemesia would add a burst of color to your container garden and contribute to the cottage garden feel.

  2. Viola or Pansy: Both violas and pansies are available in various colors and can add a touch of charm to your container garden. They are easy to grow and work well in a cottage garden setting.

  3. Fuchsia: With their pendulous, tubular flowers, fuchsias can create a focal point in your container garden. They are available in various shades of pink, purple, and white and can contribute to the informal, cottage garden feel.

  4. Lobelia: This trailing annual produces abundant small flowers in shades of blue, purple, pink, and white. Lobelia can be used to create a cascading effect in your container garden, adding another layer of interest and depth to the overall design.

Ultimately, the choice of whether to keep the lemon balm or replace it with a different plant depends on your personal preferences and the desired aesthetic for your garden. Consider how each option would fit into the overall design and contribute to the look and feel you're aiming to create.

Perfect, this was when we’d locked down the initial style – a cottage garden. It’s also funny how it read my mind about the visual interest of the lemon balm. It made me consider what we really think of as “intelligence” is really perhaps just reactions to different input. Every time someone says “Good morning, how are you doing?”, how likely will the response be “I’m great thanks. How are you?”. The context of the conversation was about creating a colourful garden and here I am questioning the lemon balm. Did I really give it any other option that to work out what was different between to the two and suggest alternatives more in-line with my garden?

Always striving to bring my perfect garden vision to life, I was curious about potential color schemes. At the same time, I wanted to incorporate terracotta pots to evoke the feel of Ancient Rome or Italy – ever the romantic! I was eager to see how these elements could blend together and I would say is a key part of wrangling the AI.


What colour scheme are you using and what colours should I be looking for when deciding on plants?


In the suggested flower bed design, the primary color scheme revolves around shades of blue, purple, and yellow, with some accents of white, pink, and green. This color palette creates a harmonious and visually appealing garden, combining complementary colors (blue and yellow) with some analogous colors (blue and purple).

When choosing plants for this flower bed, consider the following color guidelines:

  1. Blue and purple: Look for plants with blue or purple flowers or foliage, as these colors will create a sense of harmony and continuity with the existing blue-flowering shrub. Examples include hardy geraniums, heucheras with purple foliage, and blue or purple salvias.

  2. Yellow: Yellow flowers can provide a striking contrast with the blue and purple hues, creating visual interest and a lively feel. The Brachyglottis 'Sunshine' already has yellow flowers, so you might consider adding a few more yellow-flowering plants to reinforce this color theme, such as yellow daylilies, coreopsis, or rudbeckia.

  3. White, pink, and green accents: Including some white, pink, or green-flowering plants can add variety and softness to the color scheme, preventing it from becoming too overpowering. Examples of plants with white, pink, or green flowers include hellebores, white or pink astilbe, and green-flowering euphorbia.

  4. Foliage color: Don't forget to consider the color of the plant's foliage, as it can also contribute to the overall color scheme. Look for plants with silvery, blue-green, or variegated foliage that complements the existing plants and adds visual interest even when the plants are not in bloom.

When choosing plants for your flower bed, keep the color scheme in mind, but also consider factors such as growing conditions, plant height, and texture to create a well-rounded and visually appealing garden.


I have just checked and the blue flowering shrub is a tree germander. The grasses I have are "festuca glauca" known as Intense Blue. I also have a pink paeonia lactiflora. Does this change your choices?


Now that you've identified the blue-flowering shrub as a tree germander (Teucrium fruticans) and mentioned that you have blue fescue grasses (Festuca glauca 'Intense Blue') and a pink paeonia lactiflora, I can adjust the plant choices accordingly. The primary color scheme will still revolve around shades of blue, purple, and yellow, with the addition of pink accents to complement the paeonia lactiflora.

Here's an updated list of plant recommendations that work well with the plants you've mentioned:

  1. Keep the Brachyglottis 'Sunshine': The silvery foliage and yellow daisy-like flowers will still complement the overall color scheme and provide a nice contrast with the blue and pink flowers.

  2. Tree Germander (Teucrium fruticans): This blue-flowering shrub is a great choice for your garden, as it adds a touch of Mediterranean charm with its gray-green foliage and blue flowers.

  3. Blue Fescue (Festuca glauca 'Intense Blue'): The blue-tinted grasses will provide an interesting texture and a striking blue color to contrast with the other plants in the flower bed.

  4. Pink Paeonia lactiflora: This beautiful peony with its large, pink blooms adds a romantic touch to the garden and introduces pink as an accent color.

  5. Add compatible plants:

    • Nepeta (Catmint): With its lavender-blue flowers and gray-green foliage, Nepeta is a great companion plant for tree germander and blue fescue. It is also low-maintenance and drought-tolerant.
    • Delphinium: This tall perennial produces spikes of blue, purple, pink, or white flowers that would complement the existing color scheme and add vertical interest to the garden.
    • Alchemilla mollis (Lady's Mantle): This perennial has attractive, rounded leaves and produces clusters of small, chartreuse-yellow flowers that work well with the color scheme and provide a softening effect.
    • Salvia: Look for salvias with blue, purple, or pink flowers to complement your existing plants. They are low-maintenance and attract pollinators.
  6. Container plants: You can still keep the lemon balm in its terracotta pot or replace it with a more colorful or interesting plant, such as Nemesia, Viola, or Fuchsia, to create a more cohesive look with your garden's color scheme.

With these adjustments, your flower bed will maintain a harmonious color scheme of blue, purple, yellow, and pink, while incorporating plants that complement the specific ones you've mentioned. Remember to choose plants that are well-suited to your garden's conditions and monitor their health to ensure they thrive in their environment.


I liked the greek or Italian style with the large terracotta pot. Is there anything I could add to give the calm cottage garden a slight Mediterranean feel?


Yes, you can definitely add some elements to your calm cottage garden to give it a subtle Mediterranean feel while still maintaining the overall style. Here are some suggestions to achieve this:

  1. Plants with a Mediterranean touch: Incorporate a few plants that are characteristic of Mediterranean gardens, such as rosemary, thyme, or sage. These aromatic herbs can be grown in the ground or in terracotta pots, adding both fragrance and a Mediterranean aesthetic to your garden. Another option is to plant a small olive tree or bay laurel in a large terracotta pot, which can serve as a focal point and add to the Mediterranean vibe.

  2. Terracotta pots and containers: Emphasize the use of terracotta pots and containers for your plants, as they are a classic feature of Mediterranean gardens. Arrange them in clusters or use them to create different levels in your flower bed. You can also incorporate aged terracotta pots or those with a more rustic appearance to blend with the cottage garden style.

  3. Gravel or stone mulch: Replace the wood bark mulch with gravel or small stones in some areas of your garden. This will create a more Mediterranean look while still serving the practical purpose of suppressing weeds and conserving moisture.

  4. Stone or mosaic accents: Add some stone or mosaic features, such as stepping stones, a small patio area, or decorative garden ornaments. These elements can enhance the Mediterranean feel without overpowering the cottage garden style.

  5. Mediterranean color palette: You can subtly incorporate the Mediterranean color palette into your plant selection, focusing on warm shades such as terracotta, yellow, and orange. For example, add plants with flowers or foliage in these colors, like Crocosmia, Helenium, or Gaillardia.

  6. Informal planting arrangements: Maintain the informal planting arrangements characteristic of cottage gardens, but incorporate more drought-tolerant plants that can withstand the hotter and drier conditions of Mediterranean climates. This will create a more cohesive blend of the two styles.

By incorporating these elements, you can give your calm cottage garden a slight Mediterranean feel while still preserving its overall charm and character.


Yes fragrance sounds good. Something that would complement the tree germander would be good and I like the idea of a bay laurel in a pot


Adding fragrance to your garden can create a more immersive and enjoyable experience. To complement the tree germander and introduce a bay laurel in a pot, consider the following fragrant plants:

  1. Lavender (Lavandula): Lavender is a classic Mediterranean plant with beautiful, fragrant flowers that come in shades of purple, blue, and white. It can be grown in the ground or in terracotta pots, and its gray-green foliage complements the tree germander nicely. There are several varieties to choose from, such as Lavandula angustifolia 'Hidcote' or 'Munstead,' which are well-suited to the UK climate.

  2. Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis): Rosemary is another Mediterranean herb with a strong, refreshing fragrance. Its needle-like, evergreen foliage and small blue, purple, or white flowers would work well with the tree germander and other plants in your garden. It can be grown in the ground or in containers.

  3. Thyme (Thymus): Thyme is a low-growing, aromatic herb with small, fragrant leaves and tiny flowers in shades of pink, purple, or white. It can be used as a ground cover or planted in pots or between stepping stones, adding a subtle Mediterranean touch to your garden.

  4. Jasmine (Jasminum): Jasmine produces clusters of small, intensely fragrant white or yellow flowers. There are several varieties suitable for the UK climate, such as Jasminum officinale or Jasminum polyanthum. It can be trained to climb trellises, fences, or other structures, or you can grow it in a large container with a support system.

  5. Scented pelargoniums (Pelargonium): Scented pelargoniums, also known as scented geraniums, have fragrant leaves that release their scent when touched or brushed against. They come in a variety of scents, such as rose, lemon, and mint. Plant them in pots or along pathways to enjoy their fragrance as you pass by.

For the bay laurel (Laurus nobilis) in a pot, select a large terracotta pot with good drainage. Fill it with well-draining, slightly acidic to neutral potting soil, and place the pot in a sunny or partially shaded spot in your garden. Bay laurel can be pruned to maintain its shape and size, and its aromatic leaves can be used in cooking.

By incorporating these fragrant plants and the bay laurel in a pot, you'll create a pleasant, aromatic atmosphere in your garden while maintaining the cottage garden style with a Mediterranean touch.

So let’s just recap. I started with a very vague initial prompt about it’s capabilities and though building up the context and bouncing ideas around before wrangling the AI in the direction I wanted, I now have an over-arching theme for the garden, a calm cottage garden style with a slight Mediterranean feel. I also have a whole range of plants suited to the conditions factoring in colours, scents and more, which also incorporate a lot of the plants I already have.

Suddenly I snapped out of my lucid daydream. Mark was there staring at me, offering another pint of lager. The day before, he’d seen another engineer friend of his ask ChatGPT to come up with ideas for an iPhone game. The engineer was sorely disappointed with the bland list of suggestions, all drawn from the top games of 2021 – the cut-off date when ChatGPT stopped being fed new information. The AI churned out predictable suggestions: an endless runner game, a puzzle game, a tower defence game, etc. The list droned on, generic and stale. A far cry from the colourful, surprising and novel ideas the engineer had in mind. Yet, he laughed at the uninspiring results with a slightly satisfied smirk, seemingly blissfully ignorant. He declared, perhaps a touch complacently, that AI would never take his job.

Reflecting on this, I considered the stark contrast between the results I had obtained versus those the engineer had. A lot of what you read about generative AI is about crafting the perfect “prompt” – a silver bullet that will reach deep inside the AI’s model (essentially, the AI’s brain) and extracting the correct answer as precisely as a surgeon performing key-hole surgery. However, that approach often falls short of yielding impressive results. The key to leveraging conversational AI, surprisingly, lies in conversing with it! It shouldn’t be about one prompt; rather, it should be about an evolving idea that you iterate on through conversation with the AI, like I did with my garden. It’s similar to chatting with a friend in the pub. You build upon your initial query, and perhaps going off on a tangent when you aren’t getting the results you want, which in many ways is like wrangling – sometimes you need to jerk the AI in a particular direction to get around a particular dead-end or subtly nudge it to extract the results you want. Importantly, just as in human conversations, establishing a rich context is crucial. This approach is the secret to not just ‘wrangling’ the AI but it also adds a whole additional dimension to the prompts, providing the AI with a deeper understanding of your goals and allowing it to decide what’s relevant or not. Generative AI is built on the concept of probabilities and each word, sentence and idea is used to determine what response you’ll get. Trust in this process.

Sparking Creativity – Feeding it stuff to riff on

Further exploring the concepts of wrangling and creativity, let’s return to the engineer’s unsuccessful prompt. Part of the issue lies in the nature of how generative algorithms work and are trained, but there’s more to it. Think of an improv comedian at a comedy club for a moment. Improv is all about taking a given idea and running with it, and for that, the comedian needs something to riff on for the best results.

Suppose you ask a comedian to tell you a joke on the spot, and they might conjure up with something mildly funny and canned… if you’re lucky. But share an anecdote about that time you fell out with your partner while attempting to assemble IKEA flat-pack furniture, and you’ve probably given them enough fodder for a Netflix comedy special. Generative AI functions in a similar way — it reacts based on the information you provide, giving it options. So, feed it as much detail as possible, or steer it by saying ‘from the perspective of…’ and you’ll get more creative results.

More Iterating – Refining until the job is done

Now I feel I’ve mentioned about wrangling, iterating and bouncing ideas around to death but I’ve included the rest of the chat for brevity. Feel free to jump to the next section on how I got ChatGPT to create a shopping list below if it’s too much detail for you.

I essentially consider and query some points. I think this is healthy in any creative brainstorming conversation – making sure the choices are made for the right reason and can yield some interesting insights.


So you think gravel instead of woodbark? What kind of gravel?


Gravel can be an attractive alternative to wood bark for your front garden bed. It can provide a clean, modern look and pairs well with Mediterranean-style plantings. There are several types of gravel to choose from, and your choice will depend on your personal preference and the overall style of your garden. Here are a few options:

  1. Pea gravel: Pea gravel consists of small, rounded stones about the size of a pea (hence the name). It comes in various shades, including natural colors like beige, brown, and gray. Pea gravel is an excellent choice for a casual, natural look.

  2. Crushed granite or decomposed granite: This type of gravel has a more angular shape and is often used in modern or contemporary garden designs. It comes in various shades, including gray, brown, and reddish hues.

  3. Limestone chippings: Limestone chippings have a pale, off-white or light gray color and can create a bright, clean appearance in your garden. They can work well in Mediterranean or coastal-style gardens.

  4. Slate chippings: Slate chippings come in shades of blue, gray, and plum, and can create a striking contrast against your plants. They work well in modern and contemporary garden designs.

When selecting gravel for your front garden bed, consider the overall look you want to achieve, as well as the colors and textures that will best complement your plants and other garden elements. Once you've decided on the type of gravel you want, lay a weed barrier fabric on the soil surface before spreading the gravel to prevent weeds from growing through. This will help keep your garden bed low-maintenance and looking tidy


With the bed in the front garden, will it offer much colour throughout the year or will it mostly look good only for a short duration at some point?


The plant combination suggested for the front garden bed aims to provide color and visual interest throughout the year. However, some plants will have peak periods of interest, and the overall appearance of the bed will change with the seasons. Here's a rough breakdown of when each plant will offer the most color or interest:

  1. Lavender (Lavandula): Flowers in summer, with the peak bloom typically lasting several weeks. The gray-green foliage provides interest throughout the year.

  2. Blue Fescue (Festuca glauca 'Intense Blue'): This blue-tinted grass maintains its color year-round, providing a consistent visual interest.

  3. Tree Germander (Teucrium fruticans): Blooms with blue flowers from late spring to summer, and the gray-green foliage provides interest throughout the year.

  4. Paeonia lactiflora: Blooms in late spring to early summer, with the peak bloom typically lasting a few weeks. The foliage remains attractive throughout the growing season.

  5. Hellebores: These plants bloom in late winter to early spring, providing color when most other plants are dormant.

  6. Heuchera: Offers year-round foliage interest with its colorful leaves, which can range from deep burgundy to bright chartreuse, depending on the variety.

  7. Bay Laurel (Laurus nobilis): As an evergreen shrub, it maintains its dark green foliage throughout the year. Its glossy leaves can be used as a culinary herb as well.

While the bed may not have constant bright color, the combination of plants offers varying degrees of interest throughout the year, with foliage, flowers, and textures that change with the seasons. This should help create a visually appealing front garden bed that offers something to enjoy at different times of the year. You can also consider adding seasonal annuals or bulbs to provide additional pops of color during specific seasons.


What are your thoughts on working in a Cornus sanguinea Midwinter Fire?


Cornus sanguinea 'Midwinter Fire', also known as Midwinter Fire Dogwood, is a great choice for adding winter interest to your garden bed. Its stems have a striking combination of yellow, orange, and red hues that stand out during the colder months when other plants may be dormant or less colorful. Here are some considerations for incorporating this shrub into your front garden bed:

  1. Size: 'Midwinter Fire' typically grows to about 5-6 feet tall and wide. Make sure you have enough space in your garden bed to accommodate its mature size without crowding other plants.

  2. Sunlight: This dogwood variety prefers full sun to part shade. Ensure that your garden bed receives adequate sunlight for the shrub to thrive and develop its vibrant stem colors.

  3. Soil: 'Midwinter Fire' is adaptable to a wide range of soil types but prefers well-draining soil. Since your garden bed has clay soil that can get waterlogged, consider amending the soil with organic matter or planting the shrub in a slightly raised area to improve drainage.

  4. Pruning: To maintain the bright stem colors, it's essential to prune the shrub annually in early spring by cutting back about one-third to half of the oldest stems to the ground. This will encourage new growth with more vibrant colors.

  5. Plant Pairings: 'Midwinter Fire' can work well with the plants previously suggested for your garden bed. The blue-tinted grasses, evergreen foliage of the Tree Germander, and the contrasting colors of Heuchera would create an appealing mix of textures and colors throughout the year.

If you decide to add Cornus sanguinea 'Midwinter Fire' to your front garden bed, consider the above factors to ensure the best growing conditions and visual impact. Its vibrant winter stem colors will bring a stunning element to your garden during the colder months.


Is there another alternative?


Certainly! If you're looking for an alternative to Cornus sanguinea 'Midwinter Fire' that can provide year-round interest in your front garden bed, consider these options:

  1. Nandina domestica (Heavenly Bamboo): This evergreen shrub has attractive, lacy foliage that turns red or bronze during the winter months. It produces clusters of white flowers in spring and summer, followed by bright red berries in fall and winter. Nandina grows well in full sun to part shade and can tolerate a range of soil conditions.

  2. Ilex verticillata (Winterberry): A deciduous holly with bright red berries that persist throughout the winter, providing color and interest when other plants are dormant. It requires a male and a female plant for berry production, so you'll need to make sure to have both. Winterberry prefers moist, well-draining soil and can grow in full sun to part shade.

  3. Callicarpa bodinieri var. giraldii 'Profusion' (Beautyberry): This deciduous shrub offers clusters of vibrant purple berries in fall and winter, creating a stunning visual display. Beautyberry prefers well-draining soil and can grow in full sun to part shade.

  4. Skimmia japonica: An evergreen shrub with dark green, glossy foliage and clusters of fragrant white or pink flowers in spring. Female plants produce attractive red berries in fall and winter if a male plant is nearby for pollination. Skimmia grows well in part shade and prefers moist, well-draining, acidic soil.

  5. Viburnum tinus: An evergreen shrub with glossy, dark green leaves and clusters of small, tubular white or pink flowers that bloom from late winter to early spring. Some varieties also produce blue-black berries in the fall. Viburnum tinus prefers well-draining soil and can grow in full sun to part shade.

These alternatives offer year-round interest with their foliage, flowers, or berries, and they can complement the other plants in your front garden bed. Choose the one that best suits your garden's growing conditions and overall design aesthetic.

Distilling it Down – Getting Targeted Summaries

Ok, finally I’m happy with what we’ve talked about but a powerful technique with the AI is to ask it to sum everything up or describe what you have so far. In the case of designing my garden I actually wanted a shopping list – a distillation of everything we talked about refined down to a key list of plants that I can pick up at my local garden centre.


Perhaps I'll think about it. Can you write me some notes for when I go to the garden centre what type of plants and colours I should be looking out for to put in my front bed garden?


Absolutely! Here's a summary of the key points to consider when selecting plants and colors for your front garden bed:

  1. Color scheme: Aim for a harmonious blend of cool colors, such as blues, purples, and pinks, along with some contrasting foliage colors like silver, gray-green, and deep burgundy. You can also introduce some white or pale yellow accents for added brightness and contrast.

  2. Style: Consider a mix of cottage garden and Mediterranean-inspired plants, combining elements of both styles for a visually appealing and calming atmosphere.

  3. Seasonal interest: Look for plants that offer color, texture, and interest throughout the year. This can include spring and summer-blooming flowers, evergreen foliage, and plants with attractive winter features such as colorful stems or berries.

  4. Sunlight and soil requirements: Since your garden bed has clay soil that can get waterlogged, choose plants that tolerate or thrive in these conditions. Also, consider the sunlight availability in the garden bed and select plants that will grow well under those light conditions.

  5. Plant types: Incorporate a mix of perennials, shrubs, and ornamental grasses to create layers of texture and color. Look for plants with a variety of flower shapes, foliage types, and growth habits for visual interest.

Some plants and colors to consider for your front garden bed:

  • Lavender (Lavandula): Blue-purple flowers and gray-green foliage
  • Festuca glauca 'Intense Blue': Blue-tinted ornamental grass
  • Tree Germander (Teucrium fruticans): Blue flowers and gray-green foliage
  • Paeonia lactiflora: Pink flowers
  • Hellebores: Various colors, including white, pink, and purple
  • Heuchera: Foliage in shades of burgundy, purple, or chartreuse
  • Bay Laurel (Laurus nobilis): Dark green, glossy evergreen foliage

Take this list with you when you visit the garden center and use it as a reference when selecting plants for your front garden bed. Remember to consider each plant's mature size, growing requirements, and how it will fit into the overall design of your garden bed. Don't hesitate to ask for assistance or recommendations from the garden center staff to help you find the best plants for your specific needs.

Never feel that once you’ve covered something, you can’t go back and refine it. Here I decided I wanted to clarify if the plants are the strongest smelling ones. I build upon it and ask for a new shopping list. ChatGPT handles it swiftly and without batting a virtual eye-lid!


You also mentioned thyme, sage and other plants that would add scent to the garden. Are these the strongest smelling plants?


Thyme and sage are indeed fragrant plants, but there are other plants with stronger scents that you can consider for your garden. The strength of the fragrance may vary depending on the specific variety and individual preferences. Here are some plants known for their strong scents:

  1. Lavender (Lavandula): You already have lavender in your garden, which is renowned for its strong, calming fragrance. There are various species and cultivars with slightly different scents and flower colors.

  2. Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis): This evergreen, Mediterranean herb has a strong, aromatic fragrance and needle-like leaves. It produces blue, purple, or white flowers and thrives in well-draining soil and full sun.

  3. Jasmine (Jasminum): Many varieties of jasmine are known for their intoxicating, sweet fragrance. Some common types are Jasminum officinale (common jasmine) and Jasminum polyanthum (winter jasmine). They prefer full sun to partial shade and well-draining soil.

  4. Gardenia (Gardenia jasminoides): Gardenias are famous for their sweet, strong scent and elegant white or cream-colored flowers. They grow best in partial shade and well-draining, acidic soil.

  5. Lilac (Syringa): Lilacs are deciduous shrubs with clusters of fragrant, tubular flowers that bloom in spring. They come in various colors, including purple, pink, and white. Lilacs prefer full sun and well-draining soil.

  6. Daphne (Daphne odora): Daphne is an evergreen shrub with clusters of intensely fragrant, pink or white flowers that bloom in late winter to early spring. It prefers partial shade and well-draining, slightly acidic soil.

These are just a few examples of strongly scented plants that you can include in your garden. When choosing fragrant plants, consider their growing requirements, size, and how they fit into the overall design and aesthetic of your garden.


Great I think I should get some rosemary then as I already have some lavender. Can you create me a new shopping list for plants then?


Sure! Based on our discussions and your preferences, here's an updated shopping list for plants to consider for your front garden bed:

  1. Liatris spicata (Blazing Star) - Purple flowers
  2. Helleborus (Hellebore) - White or pale pink flowers
  3. Heuchera - Foliage in shades of burgundy, purple, or chartreuse
  4. Bay Laurel (Laurus nobilis) - Dark green, glossy evergreen foliage (for the large terracotta pot)
  5. Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) - Blue, purple, or white flowers and fragrant foliage

Existing plants:

  • Lavender (Lavandula) - Blue-purple flowers and gray-green foliage
  • Festuca glauca 'Intense Blue' - Blue-tinted ornamental grass
  • Tree Germander (Teucrium fruticans) - Blue flowers and gray-green foliage
  • Paeonia lactiflora - Pink flowers

Remember that this list is a starting point and can be adjusted based on your personal preferences and the specific growing conditions of your garden bed. When visiting the garden center, ask for assistance or recommendations from the staff to help you find the best plants for your needs. Make sure to consider each plant's mature size, growing requirements, and how it will fit into the overall design of your front garden bed.

Leveraging Context – 11th Hour Additions

I believe there is a lot of power in building up the context of a conversation and with a few sentences taking everything you’ve said and applying it to something new. Here I remembered I had a hanging basket above the bed. ChatGPT factors in everything we discussed before and comes up with some great suggestions for plants for the hanging basket.


Also the front bed has a hanging basket above it. What should I put in it?


A hanging basket can add an extra layer of interest and color to your front garden bed. Since we're aiming for a harmonious blend of cool colors and a mix of cottage garden and Mediterranean-inspired plants, consider incorporating the following plants for your hanging basket:

  1. Petunia: Petunias come in a wide range of colors, including blues, purples, pinks, and whites. They are easy to grow and provide a profusion of trumpet-shaped flowers throughout the summer. Choose a color that complements the existing plants in your garden bed.

  2. Calibrachoa (Million Bells): These plants resemble small petunias and come in various colors, including blues, purples, pinks, and yellows. They are trailing plants that will spill over the sides of the hanging basket, creating a lush and cascading effect.

  3. Lobelia: Lobelia produces small, delicate flowers in shades of blue, purple, pink, or white. They have a trailing habit, making them a great addition to hanging baskets. Lobelia pairs well with other plants, such as petunias or calibrachoa.

  4. Bacopa (Sutera cordata): Bacopa is a trailing plant with small, delicate flowers in white, pink, or pale blue. It adds a soft, cascading effect to hanging baskets and provides a nice contrast to the bolder flowers of petunias or calibrachoa.

  5. Helichrysum petiolare (Licorice plant): This plant has trailing, silver-gray foliage that adds a contrasting texture to the hanging basket. It's drought-tolerant and has a slightly Mediterranean feel, which aligns with the desired style of your garden bed.

You can mix and match these plants in your hanging basket for a visually appealing combination. When selecting plants, keep in mind the overall color scheme of your front garden bed and choose colors that will create a harmonious and cohesive look. Also, consider the sunlight and water requirements of each plant to ensure they will thrive in your hanging basket.

There is an old comic strip (2010 I think) by The Oatmeal, about a client asking to make a design “pop”. The designer can’t comprehend what the client means by “pop”. I couldn’t resist to see what ChatGPT would do. Don’t feel afraid of using everyday phrases. It runs counter to everything we’ve been told about using computers and how to “Google” but ChatGPT is intuitive like that and I think you’ll be surprised with the results.


Do you have any options, perhaps that would give it a pop of colour?


Certainly! Adding a pop of color can create an eye-catching focal point in your hanging basket. Here are a few options to brighten up your hanging basket with vibrant colors:

  1. Nemesia: Nemesia produces clusters of small, tubular flowers in a variety of bright colors, including red, orange, yellow, blue, and pink. They have a compact, mounding habit, making them a great addition to hanging baskets.

  2. Bidens: Bidens feature daisy-like flowers in bright shades of yellow and orange. They have a trailing growth habit and pair well with other plants in hanging baskets.

  3. Verbena: Verbena offers clusters of small flowers in a range of vivid colors such as red, purple, pink, and white. They have a trailing growth habit and work well in combination with other plants in hanging baskets.

  4. Lantana: Lantana produces clusters of small, tubular flowers in shades of red, orange, yellow, pink, and purple. The colorful flowers attract butterflies and hummingbirds. Lantana has a trailing habit, making it an excellent choice for hanging baskets.

  5. Fuchsia: Fuchsia is known for its unique, pendulous flowers in shades of pink, purple, red, and white. They can provide a striking pop of color in hanging baskets. Fuchsia prefers partial shade, so consider the sunlight conditions in your garden before choosing this plant.

When selecting plants for your hanging basket, consider the overall color scheme of your front garden bed, and choose colors that will create a balanced and harmonious look. You can mix and match these vibrant plants with some of the previously suggested plants to create a visually appealing combination. Also, consider the sunlight and water requirements of each plant to ensure they will thrive in your hanging basket.

The Grand Finale – Unveiling the Completed Garden

So that brings us to the end of our garden AI journey but what did I end up choosing? And no, that header image isn’t a stock image. It’s the real thing! I realise a garden is a personal choice and that it might not be to everyones tastes but considering where we’ve come from and my experience at designing gardens being zero, I think it’s a pretty good result.

Lying beneath my array of pots and planters are Cotswold stone chippings, their bright texture inviting a warmth that varies with the day’s light. With the dawn, they embrace a soft glow, growing to a cheerful radiance at noon, and mellowing to a gentle moon-light shimmer as dusk settles in. This delicate shift in light plays upon the variety of plants, creating a rich backdrop against the earthy terracotta pots scattered about.

In the hanging baskets, Trailing Fuchsias and Bullseye Cherry Geraniums are poised to cascade a riot of colours, their buds promising an imminent spectacle in the coming months. Their yet-to-bloom potential stirs anticipation, an unspoken promise of colour just waiting to unfurl.

The bed is a treasure trove of colours and fragrances. Pots of Lavender, with their intoxicating scent, sit alongside a fragrant Rosemary Standard which adds a sense of place and purpose. The New Guinea Impatiens, clothed in shades of Salmon Pink and Orchid Flame, add an exotic flair. A Peony Lactiflora stands proud, its fresh vibrant leaves stretching openly to the sky, its large pink blooms about to burst, adding a romantic touch to the bed. A pot of Pink Sorrel is a delightful surprise, its lovely pink flowers and clover-like leaves charmingly unconventional but adding to that rustic cottage garden feel as they open and close their petals to greet you daily with the sun.

Festuca glauca 'Intense Blue' in pots in the foreground.

There’s also a big pot of Lemon Balm, two Festuca glaucas that add a surprising spiky texture, and Brachyglottis, with it’s muted silver leaves both in the ground and in a pot. Watching over these marvels is a sweet smelling Tree Germander with delicate blue flowers that attract dozens of bees, its stature lending a stately presence.

At every turn, there are sights to behold and fragrances to savour, even tastes to behold, with each plant and pot playing its part. The Cotswold stone chippings beneath, meanwhile, subtly enhance each detail, casting the entire scene in a warm and inviting light. It’s a personal project, a testament to patience and attention, and it’s a joy to watch it grow and evolve. It’s far from finished but all good art is never truly finished!

Closing Thoughts

Throughout this blog post, we’ve delved into the untapped power of conversational AI, with a particular focus on ChatGPT. We’ve demonstrated that it’s much more than a straightforward prompt-based system; rather, it can be an impactful tool for problem-solving and complex data analysis. We’ve seen how ChatGPT can understand and analyse natural language and concepts, showcasing its potential in a real-life scenario — designing a beautiful cottage garden. Something far removed from 24th century spaceships, science labs or end-of-the-world scenarios!

Indeed, it seems we’ve only just embarked on a fascinating journey into the realm of AI. It’s time to truly get acquainted with ChatGPT, and start our conversation with the AI, not just asking it to complete tasks or answer questions but leveraging it for creative design and new ways of thinking. The ability of ChatGPT to understand and respond to complex queries in natural language is a game-changer in so many ways.

I stand by my earlier statement that AI is the motorcycle for the mind. Just as a motorcycle accelerates your physical journey, AI can speed up your intellectual and creative journeys, helping you arrive at solutions quicker and with less effort. Of course, I haven’t done anything that couldn’t be accomplished through weeks of library research, scouring gardening magazines, or making a dozen phone calls to that sage gardening expert affectionately known as ‘Granny.’ Yet, consider how much time I’ve saved. Reflect on the simplicity of swapping out plants and considering different options. Think about how easy it was to incorporate hanging baskets at the eleventh hour. And finally, imagine the convenience of generating a neat, comprehensive shopping list. This doesn’t even take into account the vast information you can query about any particular plant – how to repot it, potential problems, and so forth. It genuinely feels like having a helpful sidekick at my disposal, ready to assist with any need. I believe the secret lies not in treating it as an inanimate tool, but in embracing it as a dynamic partner or co-pilot in your thought process. Picture it as your very own R2D2 from Star Wars except with less beeping!

So, get set to explore, experiment, and evolve with ChatGPT. Whether you’re a professional aiming to harness AI in your work, or a curious individual keen on exploring the possibilities, the future of conversational AI is yours to discover. After all, isn’t it time to unleash the ‘motorcycle of your mind’ and journey to the places you’ve only dreamt about if you had more mental energy?

Sharing the Knowledge

Imagine a friend or colleague reading this article, discovering the world of AI and ChatGPT. Perhaps they’re tech enthusiasts, lifelong learners or even keen gardeners. Could this insight into AI be a valuable resource for them? Consider sharing this article – whether by hitting the ‘Share’ button on LinkedIn or sending it directly. You’re not just sharing an article, but contributing to their knowledge about this topical intriguing subject. Also if you want to keep updated, follow me on LinkedIn or Twitter. I’ll be posting more thought provoking articles on practical AI soon.

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  1. Brilliant post – I stumbled on you looking for thoughts on perennial garden planning but this is a superb diversion. I have been using the conversational IQ power of AI for work and clients but solely from a corporate consulting perspective. I had not thought about tapping its expertise as a landscaper, so thank you for such a comprehensive guide to your experience.