Monday, 29 November 2010

Gardens and gardening ~ as a source of pleasure

Gardening is one of my greatest sources of well-being and enjoyment, so it's surprising that I've  previously written so little about it.  I'm very interested in gardens as an environment, a landscape, if you like, so that's my main focus and what I want to talk about.  I'm not particularly technical about how I do gardening, or knowledgeable about methods as these are of much lesser importance to me.  In any case there are lots of other sources of that sort of information.  The thinking about gardening is perhaps less commonly talked about, and that's what I'm good at and keen to share.  

As I'm instinctively reflective in character, the question of 'why' is a common starting point in any undertaking, so I start here with the question of 'why have a garden?'  Why indeed - they can be a lot of work and commonly involve getting sweaty and dirty!  Oh but the joy of it!  Let's start at the beginning:

For a garden to be a source of pleasure it's important to give thought to what we want from it: do we want it to look out on it, or to spend time actually in it?  Do we want to grow vegetables or flowers, shrubs or trees, or a combination of all these?  If so what size?  Do we like a cottage garden look, or a minimalist one?  And perhaps most crucially, do we want to be able to do the gardening work ourselves or would we rather someone else did it?

I want (and get) a lot of things.  Reduced to essentials this is what I'm after:
I want a garden to provide pleasure though all the senses: contrast of leaf colours, shapes and textures; flowers, bees and butterflies; rustling of leaves, birdsong, and rippling of water; smells of the earth and leaf litter; and most important of all a sense of the natural goodness and harmony of the earth we live on.

All this provides refreshment for the spirit – definitely worth striving for!  The best gardens are a pleasure to gaze at, walk through or rest in, and maintaining them is relatively easy and comfortable. 

Does this sound like something you would like, or describe what you already have?  The wonderful thing about gardening is that it needn't be costly or elaborate to be rewarding and lovely.  

In my next gardening article I'll write about tools.

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