A Garden Is More Than an Outdoor Space
Some phrases make my pruning hand twitch.
- "Bringing the Indoors Out"
- "Outdoor Living Space"
- "Garden Makeover"
Magazines and TV shows that specialize in home redos love to use them, but there is fundamental difference between between gardening and decorating. There are similarities, especially with regard to color and scale, but the big difference is how you interact with the space: if you are decorating, you are changing the space to suit you, but when you garden you and your space change together.
On a decorating show, the space is remade, everything is perfect (and finished), and the cameras stop and the space immediately starts to deteriorate. Furniture is sat on, glasses are put on tables, rugs are walked on, dust settles, stains develop, and even if the space is never sullied by actual use, everyday it becomes a little more out of date.
Gardens change to, but much of the joy of gardening comes from using these changes to create a constantly growing and evolving place. Each time I approach my garden, the potential thrills me in a way that vacuuming never could. I can either stake a plant and make it look proud and elegant, or I can embrace its lushness and let it sprawl a bit. I can deadhead or leave the seed heads in place to enjoy their shape and create future seedlings. I can encourage a struggling plant or accept that it just isn't in the right place. My garden uses intense mixes of texture and color, but over time I have made many adjustments to make it a little closer to Versailles or a bit more like a relaxed meadow.
There are plenty of trends and fashions in gardens, and there are many snide gardinistas who will judge you for following last year's trend. There are also people who think your dog is passé. The garden is a living thing, which means that it grows and changes and you can't help but develop a relationship with it, and I don't feel that I own it in the same way I own my furniture. I guess I feel that if anyone willing to gut their garden or who doesn't treasure and revel in the differences between inside and outside isn't really a gardener.