Aus Zeitgründen gibt es diesen Beitrag heute nur in Englisch. Ich bitte die Leser ohne Englischkenntnisse um Verständnis.


(Image: Les Jardins de Quercy, one of the gardens that will be featured in my book)

Over the past few months I read several garden reviews, among them gardens of rather well established personalities of the horticultural scene, accompanied by pictures which were supposed to emphasize the points that were made. Quite often these reviews or critiques refer to poor planting or maintenance, weeds, low standard, gaps in the borders etc. The pictures show weeds, gaps, sometimes odd combinations. A while after that I came across Anne Wareham’s interesting article in which she suggests, those who do open their gardens need to find out what people think of them and -if need be- strive to get things right. This whole discussion raises several questions. I think gardens are a mirror of the soul. Pretty scary thought when you think of all the gardens which consist merely of a lawn and a sick looking conifer hedge but that’s another matter, and to discuss the worrying state of some people’s soul would certainly go beyond the scope. Anyway, I firmly believe in this and gardens are as diverse as their creators. I am talking about private gardens made by devoted people of varying means. In some cases it’s the creation of a lifetime and/or story of a special relationship. We all create our humble or generous equivalent of paradise lost. Some are nice enough to be willing to share it with others. This takes quite a bit of courage as most gardeners are usually too self-aware and think their gardens are not up to the scrutiny of the public. But it is a generous gesture to open your garden and let others trample your lawn and step on your precious, rare calceolaria arachnoidea during the effort to capture the pink, towering foxglove in the back with their mobile phone cameras. In some cases the calceolaria may be gone altogether – it can happen, not all gardeners are angels as I have been told. While you offer tea and homemade cake, advise and plant names, people walk around your plot forging their opinion. Some will like what you’ve done, other’s won’t. That’s the way it is and nothing can be done about. By accident you may come across a blogger reviewing your garden. It may be torn to pieces accompanied by unfavourable pictures which by the way can be taken in the most perfect garden if you try hard enough. The question is: Do we have the right to do this? And I’m not referring to freedom of speech but more to an ethical right. Gardening is an art form and finds its expression in many ways. It’s a very personal affair too, and I have to admit that only very few gardens really touch my soul, making we want to go back and linger, trying to understand and dig deeper. What is our attitude when we visit a garden? Are we open to other people’s individuality and ideas or do we have expectations? The latter is bound to be disastrous. When I visit gardens I’m very open minded and the more creative, stimulating and thoughtful a place is the better. Surely we cannot expect all gardens to please us. Visiting gardens is a privilege and should not be connected to expectations of any kind if we are to draw pleasure and intellectual challenge out of it. Should we find out what people think? People have different views and backgrounds. Should we listen to all of them or just to those whose opinions we like? If we listen to all of them which may quickly develop into a time consuming endeavour what are we supposed to make out of it? Do we not make our gardens the way they are because it feels right and mirrors our ideas, philosophy and passion? If I listen to all the visitors, my head will be spinning and I find myself pretty confused at the end of the day. Or it may lift me into higher spheres – who can tell. I think the bottom line is that some feel certain gardens shouldn’t open their gates at all and mind their own business in case expectations won’t be met. Maybe a standard should be set to define who may and may not take part in garden open days? But who should set that standard?

What do you think? Do you open your garden or not? Do you visit other gardens? Do you have expectations? I defintely would like to know what you think. 🙂