Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Gardens are Strange

"The fact that human beings create such things as gardens is strange, for it means that there are aspects of our humanity which nature does not naturally accommodate, which we must make room for in nature’s midst. This in turn means that gardens mark our separation from nature even as they draw us closer to it, that there is something distinctly human in us that is related to nature yet is not of the order of nature…"

Robert Pogue Harrison - Gardens: An Essay on the Human Condition


  1. Another book to put beside this one on your book shelf: Rory Stuart's What are gardens for?--in case you haven't seen it.

    1. I have not. I'll check it out. Thanks, James

  2. So true. This is a great book.

  3. In my opionion the thing we must make room for is self-expression. Robert Harrison Pogue claims that man is by nature a ‘creature of care’. He say's that caring for things is what makes life matter. It is “an expansive projection of the intrinsic ecstasy of life” (2008, p.33). So true, for when we care and nurture something (like a garden), we invest in it a part of ourselves that is multiplied and returned to us through extended meaning.

  4. Where does the creating come in there, Olga?

    And yes James (hello everyone!) Rory Stuart's book is a must read...


  5. Creating a garden is a form of self-expression (and appropriation) in collaboration with nature. Nature, the other, is an organic and dynamic partner for whom we care and nurture and connect. It draws us in to participate in the wonder of life. The only separation I can see is in our minds.

  6. While I agree that some create gardens as a means of self expression in collaboration with nature (what a perfect phrase, Olga), I think that there's also an inherent need in humans to control what's around them. We want to both to show our power and protect our 'cave' (part of my theory about why men love lawns so much), and making gardens is a part of that. Nature often co-operates, at least for a while, and then unleashes something of such relentless power, be it storms or pests, that we are put firmly back in our place.

  7. thanks for reminding me of this beautiful book and RPH's wisdom; I'm ready to read it again

  8. This is such an outstanding post, I'm not even sure where to start. I'll go with the commenter you have in your sidebar who says, "YES! YES! You are so right!!"

    I love the idea that there's science behind our seemingly metaphysical relationship with plants, and you articulate it all incredibly well. Outstanding.

  9. Bottle Brush Buckeye Nursery TN. This shrub is a deciduous shrub that grows best in zones 4-8 and grows a maximum height of 12 feet. This shrub has received the name of producing nuts, these nuts are called Buckeyes. This shrub is easily grown at an average well-drained soil in partial shade or full shade. This shrub is very drought tolerant, because it is intolerant of dry soil. Aesculus parviflora is one of the best summer flowering shrubs available today in shady areas.

    Bottle Brush Buckeye

  10. Pertaining to nostalgia, I was reading a news post on the UBC forum related to biodegradable urns for ashes, with seeds inside. My guess is that most people would want locations for memorial trees (or seeds) to be where the trees could grow for decades or more.

    Either way, one of the strongest nostalgic connections I've encountered were where trees were grown or planted in memorial of a person or pet.

    Another aspect ... pruning ... I've heard several people acknowledge that transformation with thinning often removed oppressiveness from landscaping and gardens.


  11. I cannot WAIT to read more of this. I mean, you just know so much about this. So much of it Ive never even thought of. You sure did put a new twist on something that Ive heard so much about. I dont believe Ive actually read anything that does this subject as good justice as you just did.


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