Thursday, February 01, 2007
Kim over at A Study in Contrasts is wondering how we gardeners view ourselves and whether one possibility is as artists. My thought is that it all depends on your interpretation of the word gardener...and my take on it would be that gardeners are artists, with the caveat that many people who work in their yards are not gardeners. Gardeners need to garden, they have a passion and compulsion for it, it eases their soul, it creates joy. These characteristics are true of artists in any genre. People who find satisfaction simply in getting the grass cut and the leaves raked and being done with "the yard work" are not gardeners, although they make better neighbors than some other types. Typically, a yard being maintained is static. It might be full of live materials but it isn't alive. It doesn't draw you in, make you want to venture further, see what's down the path (which is at best probably the front door). Gardens and good art involve the viewer, touching the heart and mind...as well as originating there! And they operate on many levels so that they can appeal to a variety of viewers and draw those viewers back again and again.
At the same time, not all art and not all gardens are appealing to everyone at all times. Just as we appreciate different paintings or music at different times in our lives we can appreciate different gardens, or on a smaller scale, different plants as we grow along with our gardens. (Personally, I've started introducing some yellow into my garden...I wonder if red can be far behind??) So where does that leave the static garden? I think those yard owners don't even really see what is in that space surrounding their homes...because, for them, it doesn't really matter. They just aren't gardeners.
I think there is an immense creative factor involved when a gardener begins a garden...thought is given to who will use the space, how it will be viewed, how it will age, what feelings one hopes to evoke. Do you want to feel energized by the space? calmed? welcomed? protected? connected to nature in a larger sense? A few shrub borders and an expanse of lawn isn't going to do much for any of these. Or maybe that creative factor comes into play slowly, as the garden evolves and the gardener/artist becomes aware of the never-ending choices the garden offers. (Too late to turn back now!)
So now I'm wondering, what is it that works for you? What is directing your gardening...your head? your heart? When your heart falls in love with a new plant does your head step in and try to talk you out of it? Or when your head says no to the borderline hardy perennial (shifting hardiness zones aside) does your heart tell you to go for it? Which one usually wins?
What do you want to feel when you're sitting in your garden at the end of a satisfying day? What do you want visitors to feel?
Have you changed what you appreciate or strive for in a garden?
And when did it hit you, that like so many other truly important things in life, gardening is all about the journey and not at all the arrival!