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

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(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. 🙂

59 thoughts

  1. Very interesting post. All gardens reflect their owners likes and dislikes and when you open your garden you have to be prepared for criticism. We were asked for 7 years to open for the National Garden Scheme, before we finally gave in and opened for 5 years until ill health meant we couldn’t keep up the standard that was required. We always felt that the garden wasn’t good enough, gardeners tend to be so critical of their little plot, but people enjoyed it and came back time and time again. It does take courage to open your garden to the public, but nearly all visitors are lovely and it is a pleasure to have them looking round.

    1. I guess you’re right, Pauline, one has to be prepared for criticism, but were you looking for it at the time to try and improve your garden? Few people would probably dare to say what they think when they meet you – it’s much easier to write about it afterwards.

  2. Liebe Annette,

    das sind interessante Gedanken. Ich schaue mir auch sehr gerne andere Gärten an. Wenn solche Gärten im Rahmen von Garten-Events geöffnet werden, hat man natürlich zumindest die Erwartung, dass sie mehr zu bieten haben als geschorenen Rasen und die unsägliche Koniferen-Hecke. Was das „mehr“ konkret ist – da bin ich ganz offen. Wenn mir ein Garten gefällt, sage ich es gerne dem Eigentümer. Wenn er mir nicht gefällt, halte ich den Mund. Ich finde, das gebietet die Höflichkeit.

    Mein eigener Garten spiegelt meine bzw. unsere Persönlichkeit (noch) nicht so weit wieder, dass ich ihn der Öffenltichkeit präsentieren würde. Der Vorbesitzer unseres Hauses hat große Teile von einem Landschaftsgärtner gestalten lassen und angesichts unseres knappen Zeitbudgets (und im Vergleich zum Vorbesitzer auch des geringeren finanziellen Budgets) sind wir ganz froh darüber.

    Die Bereiche, in denen ich mich selbst austobe, erweisen sich als anspruchsvoll genug. Zumal ein Garten sich ja ständig wandelt und dadurch auch immer mal mehr und mal weniger gefällt. Außerdem fällt es mir schwer, mich zwischen naturnah, mediterran und japanisch inspiriert zu entscheiden. Vielleicht spiegelt das ja meine konfuse Seele wieder 😉

    Wie auch immer. Spaß macht es trotzdem 🙂

    1. Liebe Jana, es ist ein gewisser Prozess bis der eigene Garten die Persönlichkeit widerspiegelt, und in manchen Fällen tritt das vielleicht nie ein, weil die Leute zu sehr danach streben zu imitieren. Andererseits muss ein seelenvoller Garten nicht mit einem hohen Budget verbunden sein.Ein Garten ist ständig im Wandel und entwickelt sich mit uns. Viel Spass bei der Gestaltung von deinem grünen Paradies. Vielleicht magst du mal ein paar Bilder teilen? Liebe Grüsse 🙂

  3. I have no garden. But I visit others, because I have none. 😉 If you are in such doubt as you mentioned in your article, let the garden closed for the public. What does your gut say? Have a really nice day. Und für das neue Jahr alles Gute und viele schöne Stunden und Erlebnisse. 🙂

    1. I personally am in no doubt (at least not in this case 😉 ) – I absolutely love my garden, this is merely to spark some interesting discussion and to find out if others look for criticism or if they think they’re entitled to their own. Alles Gute auch für dich!

  4. A very interesting post. I agree that private gardens that are open for charity (like for the Yellow Book) shouldn’t be criticed on blogs etc; by all means visit and learn and I think you always learn more when you see things you don’t like rather than what you like. Being critical, ie learning is great but hurting the feelings of owners who like what they have is not acceptable.

    1. Interesting thought, Christina, that one learns more from seeing things one doesn’t like. Do you open your garden? Do you want to know what others think about yours or do you feel it’s right the way it is? What about private gardens of famous garden people? Do we have a right to critisize them?

  5. I open my garden most years and I think I am much harsher critic of it then the people who visit it. I am always striving for something more and so it never quite meets my expectations. That said I do cut myself some slack as I have been making this 2nd garden for about 11 years now and I now have a structure in which to play. .I am about to seriously edit the inital plantings and try and adapt to a more sustainable ideas from the ‚New Perrenial Landcape Movement‘ such as working with more native plants, less exotics, illimanting more lawn for starters. As a garden writer I would never rip apart someone elses garden. I almost alwsy find something I like in most peole’s gardens: a plant I did not know about, and as interesting cobination of plants that inspired me. I do belive and strive to make more of an art garden and my favorite gardens are very personal. Good post. thanks Don

    1. Hi Don, I also think there’s something to like in most gardens if you’re open to it. Did you ever try to find out what others think of your garden? Would you think their (constructive) criticism might help you to achieve an even better garden? Gardens are constantly evolving and mirror our own development which is the way it should be but are visitors able and willing to look behind it? Best wishes

  6. This is a really interesting post, Annette. We have been discussing the subject of whether the garden is an art form in the Suffolk Plant Heritage magazine recently. I think the answer is that some, but by no means all gardens are. If they are an art form then should they be open to judgement and criticism in the same way as any other art form is? I know Anne Wareham believes very strongly that they should be. She believes that people should be told if their gardens are found wanting. I don’t think I agree. As you say true gardeners put their souls into the gardens and to have your beloved garden criticised and to be told it somehow doesn’t measure up to someone else’s aesthetic criteria is unbelievably hurtful. I opened my garden for the NGS for years but no longer do because it is such hard work. I admire people who do it though and as Catchwoman 1 says if you go garden visiting and you like someone’s garden say so but if you don’t then keep quiet. I used to be a County Organiser for the NGS and and the organisers do try to ensure that NGS gardens are worth looking at. The garden owners themselves work incredibly hard to make sure that their gardens are at their best on the big day. How unkind to find fault.

    1. I think garden making is an art and certainly not every garden succeeds in becoming a work of art, but this also lies in the eye of the beholder. Same for paintings: what is masterful for some is disastrous for others. Aesthetic criteria vary greatly in one country never mind across the world. Tricky business really, if some tell you your garden isn’t up to it, others are enthusiastic – to whom are we supposed to listen? I opened my garden a few years ago and know how much preparation is involved. Anne suggested that the pressure to raise money is so high that the NGS take on practically any garden – true? Guess if you claim that your garden is a art form you have to be open for criticism just like all other artists. Thanks for your thoughtful comment, Chloris.

  7. Ach Annette, das ist mein Thema. ich überlege schon lange, ob ich meinen Garten öffnen soll, aber ich habe Angst. Angst vor der Kritik, eigentlich vertrage ich Kritik gut, aber in meinem Garten? Da steckt mein Herzblut drinnen. Ich habe Angst, dass ich vor der Eröffnung 2 Monate so viel arbeite, dass ich umfalle, und dann doch nicht zufrieden bin. Und dann unser Norddeutsches Wetter, das macht mir die größte Sorgen, das kenne ich von der Heuernte, da werde ich verrückt. Ich gehe gerne in fremde Gärten und schaue mich um, hole mir Inspirationen, besonders natürlich in England. Es soll auch nicht so sein, wie ich es machen würde. Der Garten ist wirklich ein Spiegelbild seiner Erschaffer und irgendwie ist das schon intim.
    ich glaube, ich warte noch ein Jahr?
    lg Marlies
    jetzt kann ich wieder nicht schlafen…

    1. Liebe Marlies, das Herzblut und die Seele, das wir -keineswegs jeder- in unsere Gärten stecken, machen diese zu einer sehr persönlichen Angelegenheit. Es kommt natürlich auch immer auf die Art der Kritik an UND wer sie äussert. Ich würde auf jeden Fall empfehlen, einmal mitzumachen. Mir hat das immer grossen Spass gemacht, und man trifft dadurch viele interessante Menschen und hat oftmals einen tollen Austausch. Wollte dir keine schlaflose Nacht bereiten ;), viele Grüsse

      1. Ja an das Kennenlernen von Gleichgesinnten und den Austausch hatte ich auch gedacht bei meinem „Dafür“,muss noch etwas warten und dann eine Bauchentscheidung treffen.
        lg Marlies

  8. Yes, very thought provoking, Annette. I am in full agreement with you when you say gardens are a mirror of the soul, a reflection of ourselves – well certainly in my case, but I suspect we have to have an actual relationship with our gardens before that can happen and for some people that may never be the case. I have visited quite a few NGS gardens and never cease to be amazed at how different they all are; I suppose it is only natural to think how we might have done things in the same space, but that need not invoke criticism and is irrelevant anyway.More importantly we can look out for new plants, new ideas, new thoughts to take away with us, as well as admiring it as an ‚art form‘ if indeed it is one which it may not be. I did apply to be included once, about 10 years ago, and was rejected as ’not being ready‘ (basically) and possibly fear rejection if I was ever to consider applying again. I am far more spiritually involved in the garden these days than I was then, and it seems selfish not to share the energies of the garden that we have been blessed with, but I am not sure I want to go down a formal ‚open garden‘ route and would rather share it in other ways. Not sure where I am going with that yet….

    1. True, Cathy, we need to establish a relationship with our garden and we also have to have developed a personality ourselves otherwise it’ll be a mere imitation. I’ve seen so many gardens that are similar because the owners have not achieved a style of their own. It’s the quirky, individual places and owners I appreciate. Like you I’m also intrigued by how different gardens can be, and this makes garden visiting such a great, diverting, sometimes thought provoking activity. It may be well worth trying to be included again or maybe you could open individually, don’t know if you have this possibilty in the UK. As you say it’s good to share – as we do here on WP too. Best wishes

      1. Hi Annette – I have been thinking a lot about your post and our comments. Sharing through our blogs is indeed one way of sharing, although if any of my blogging friends visited (and I would be more than happy for them to do so) I can’t help wondering if they would be disappointed with the ‚real thing‘! Perhaps I will start by opening for a charity I am involved in….

      2. That is a good idea, Annette, and the next village has an open garden weekend every year, so perhaps I will enquire about joining them…. See what your post has prompted, Annette…

  9. An interesting point you’ve brought up Annette. If I visit a garden for free, I am open to and appreciative of everything, but if I have to pay I do expect at least one „wow“ moment! I agree that gardens are very personal and that’s why I would not open mine… maybe I’m just afraid of criticism?… And yet, I personally have never visited a garden, public or private, that I would criticize! It is often a matter of taste, and might not be my type of planting etc, but there is always something positive I can find and enjoy. I would never change my own space just because someone else has suggested I should, as you say, because it reflects me, my whole outlook on plants and wildlife, and the time I can devote to it also plays a role. Thank you for such a thought-provoking post Annette!

    1. Hi Cathy, a lot of gardens open for charity so you have pay something. I think participating gardens should have a certain standard, but this may not guarantee a wow moment for every visitor. I wouldn’t change my garden either because it feels right for me. I haven’t opened this one yet as it’s still in the making but I’d like to some day, maybe. If we feel gardening is an art form, maybe we need to be prepared fro criticism though? I think for some people it’s also a very ambitious project and they just want to be among the best. Kind regards

  10. Interesting post! I’ve visited a garden in Cornwall during a holoday trip to England when I was younger. I appreciated it because it was a moment to experience another part of english culture. The owner was very nice and the garden was really beautiful. I decided to take no photos because I just wanted to enjoy the garden. Like you said: gardens are a mirror of our souls. And I liked to look in that mirror to learn more about other people. Everyone who thinks that he has the right to talk bad about a garden didn’t understand it and the character it is referring to. That is assuming! No one has the right to judge a persons character so no one can judge a garden in my opinion.

    1. Thank you, Franziska, I may not like to look into every mirror but definitely some can be challenging. Judging may be an inappropriate word, but do you never forge an opinion of someone or his/her garden?

      1. That word might be a little bit too strong, yes. 🙂 Of course I have my opinions but I don’t like to talk it out loud if it’s hurting someone who has done a lot of work to develope a garden 🙂

  11. Oh much food for thought Annette. I think that Cathy has taken the words out of my mouth 🙂 Where I have paid to see a garden however large or small, I also anticipate at least one take my breath away ‚wow moment“ too and would be disappointed if this did not happen. I realise that sometimes that the entrance fee may not have been substantial but surely if you are being ask to pay money for any experience it must merit it. I also think that criticism does not have to be negative but there is never any justification for being rude or downright insensitive when writing/blogging about garden visits.

    1. When does a place merit it? I sometimes visit gardens which have been awarded some sort of label even (jardin remarquable for example in France) and wonder how on earth they got it. People are so different in their judgements, tastes and standards. The risk may be just part of garden visiting and if we travel far to see a place it may be wise to investigate beforehand. Criticism can be positive too, of course, but hardly ever is.

  12. Liebe Annette, nachdem ich heute früh schon einen langen Kommentar geschrieben hatte, hat wp wieder mal versagt und alles war verschwunden..
    Ich stimme Dir zu, dass der Garten die Seele widerspiegelt und eine sehr persönliche fast intime Seite des Gärtners offen legt – allerdings nur denen, die ein Gespür dafür haben. Wir überlegen auch, irgendwann den Garten zu öffnen, jetzt ist es noch zu früh. Dann waren wir im Sommer bei den offenen Gartenpforten hier im Nachbarort: Echt gefallen haben mir nur ein, zwei Gärten, aber ich könnte es nicht übers Herz bringen, Kritik zu äußern! Hat er oder sie sich doch einen Gartentraum erfüllt und viel daran gearbeitet und Herzblut vergossen! Aber es ist wie in einer Wohnung: der eine liebt es üppig, der andere puristisch und wer legt die Messlatte an?
    Ein guter Beitrag, Annette, der zum Nachdenken anregt und das hast Du sicher auch gewollt!
    Liebe Grüße
    Sabine und Reinhard

    1. Hallo ihr zwei, das meinte ich mit „attitude“. Es liegt oft an einem selbst, wie man einen Garten erlebt, und man kann nicht erwarten, dass man von jedem berührt wird. Es gibt ja auch nur wenige Menschen, die einem wirklich etwas „sagen“. Sucht ihr selbst den Austausch, und seid ihr offen für Kritik oder findet ihr, ein anderer hat kein Recht zu kritisieren? Ist das Gärtnern eine Kunstform in euren Augen? Wer legt die Messlatte an, gute Frage. Gibt es eine bestimmte Definition von Geschmack? Hat man ihn oder nicht? Spannende Fragen :), liebe Grüsse an euch!

  13. Very interesting thoughts, Annette. So I never would think of opening my little garden 😉 I love to visit OpenGardens. I think you have to differ in „gardeners“ who want to show their gardens in a sort of „competition“ and the others who do that for open them to merely enjoy others. I do not know the system of Open Gardens in England or other countries, do not know, what’s behind. What I know: When I visit a private garden, I know that I am a guest, and my parents taught me to behave like one. Sometimes I think, it’s in our times, that everybody thinks that his/her opinion is asked, where it’s not.

    1. That’s a good and important point, I think, as there are people who just want to share their love of gardening and others who aim for a certain standard and reputation. They may think their gardens merit more praise than others? I agree we should be happy if others open their plots and it’s not up to us to tear their vision into little pieces.

  14. What a most interesting post.
    We often opened our old garden to the public and, on the whole, it was a pleasant experience. Sometimes you would overhear comments, usually nice ones, but not always. The best compliment I overheard was „Finally, a real garden“. It comes back to what you said, we react very differently to gardens and it is always a pleasure to see one you can relate to. These are the gardens you are always ready to revisit.
    It is simple politeness, if you tour a private garden you do not particularly like, to refrain from venting your criticisms to the gardener. Hoever, we must remember that some of the negative comments are sometimes not directly related to the garden. We once took two visitors who were having a disagreement to see an open garden. There was a book for visitor comments where they wrote awful things. These comments were more a reflection of their mood than an assessment of the garden.

    1. It’s important to be polite and keep quite unless the garden owner really wants to know what you think. I think you’re right about personal feelings having an influence on our experience and perception. In some cases it may even have something to do with antipathy. Thanks, Alain, for visiting and commenting.

  15. I am involved in organizing garden walks. There are over 1000 open gardens in our area for public viewing. I have also had my garden open for a number of years and I agree that disparaging photos can be shot in any garden. Conversely, I can shoot a terrible garden and make it magazine worthy too, just by the angle and composition. Even staging a shot. My big gripe is bloggers coming to a garden and ripping it to shreds in blogs. I have seen some famous gardens being torn apart in blogs. Where do some people get off being rude like this since they are a guest and being treated hospitably when visiting. I remember the Mary Keen affair. If I remember correctly, the gent was mad because he paid to see the garden. Some open gardens do charge a fee and maybe the expectations are higher for them, but it still seems wrong to malign someone’s personal garden like this.

    1. Hi Donna, well said: Images can ensky a garden or rip it to shreads as we know as photographers. A lot of us have shot places we didn’t like. It’s interesting to see that nobody who commented on this post so far felt we have the right to voice our feelings in public.I think charging a fee is definitely connected to expectations of some sort. Have a nice weekend!

  16. Hello Annette,
    What an interesting post this is and it does indeed provide much food for thought. I have just finished writing a small text advertising a little tour in the area where I live to see some of the wild herbs that grow around here. The plan is to complete the event with a tour of my garden to show some of the herbs and plants there. And I am a bit scared, I must admit. My garden is far from perfect, but I love it and I feel that it is ME. What if people say, boy, she sure could have done some weeding before she let people come to her place? Will I drive myself crazy before the day and run around cutting the lawn, trimming the shrubs and flowers, digging the ground just to make everything „perfect“? May well be. I am afraid of people who lack tact and politeness, I must say. I will have to see how it goes and if the experience is bad, I will probably never offer to open my garden again. But then again, maybe it will be great and I will make new friends. Who knows?

    Have a lovely evening!
    Doris

    1. Hello Doris, thanks for visting my blog. I think the bottom line is that if you really love your garden and think it’s YOU then you won’t be easily hurt. After openening my garden I received such a great feedback and thank you cards etc., all making me very happy. So I recommend it, anyway you can always stop it. Life is about taking risks :), best wishes

  17. I don’t do it much, but I love to visit gardens. I love to see what people have tried, what they’ve been successful with, and even what didn’t work out. I would never criticize a private garden… I might ask about certain choices, and ask if other options were considered… if pressured, I might agree that something didn’t really work out, but I would never outright insult a design or planting.
    On the other hand I hope someday there would be something worth visiting in my own garden, and I would not be in the least bit bothered by people not liking it. Cowardly remarks and backhand compliments would irritate me, but more for the personality delivering them than the actual content of their opinion.
    My garden will never be perfect and that’s fine with me. I have fun. 🙂

    1. I like the way you look at it, Frank, it speaks for a very self confident gardener and that’s how it should be. It’s about creativity and fun and if we love it who cares if others don’t. What’s perfect anyway? 😉

  18. Wir nehmen inzwischen seid sechs Jahren an der offenen Pforte in unserer Stadt teil. Es sind immer sehr nette und anstrengende Tage, am Abend sind mein Mann und ich immer groggi, da man doch immer herumflitzt und viele viele Fragen (die sich oft wiederholen) beantwortet. Mir sind viele Komplimente und ausgedrückte Freude in Erinnerung (besondere schreib ich mir auch auf) und Kritik tja da weiß ich nur einmal hat eine Frau meine Farbkombination bei zwei Kletterrosen (beide in der gleichen Farbe) bemängelt.
    Viele Gärten sehen wir uns auch bei anderen an. Jeder Garten hat eine andere Handschrift. Mancher spricht mich an, andere nicht. Aber das ist auch gut so, denn Geschmäcker sind bekanntlich verschieden. Ich würde nie einen anderen Garten kritisieren. Okay manchmal sagen wir hinterher im Auto, den Garten brauchen wir nicht nocheinmal zu besuchen. Und zu anderen muß ich wieder hin, im nächensten Jahr oder auch mal zu einer anderen Jahreszeit, da sie so schön oder interessant sind.. In diesem Jahr haben wir zwei Termine einen kurz nach Ostern und einen zur Rosenhauptblüte. Es ist immer spannend ob zu dem Termin auch alles blüt, was man so geplant hat, denn der Winter, Regen Wühlmäuse Buchskrankheiten und vieles anderes hat ja auch seine Finger im Spiel
    Schöne Grüße aus Niedersachsen

    1. Liebe Martina, das empfinde ich genauso. Ich mag Globalisierung nicht, erst recht nicht im Garten. Wenn die Seele von den Gartenbesitzern spürbar ist, gefallen mir manchmal auch Gärten, die nicht mein Ding sind. Da ihr nach all den Jahren immer noch teilnehmt, überwiegen die guten Eindrücke. Das ist prima! Ich drücke die grünen Daumen für eine erfolgreiche Gartensaison und viele spannende Begegnungen 🙂

  19. Hallo, Annette !
    Wir haben vor einigen Jahren zum ersten Mal unsere Gartenpforte geöffnet und waren überwältigt von den Menschen die uns besuchten. Sicherlich gab es auch den ein oder anderen dazwischen, dem unser Garten nicht gefiel und einen bösen Blick habe ich mir dabei auch eingefangen ( unser Garten ist nichts für Stöckelschuhe 😉 ), aber darüber schaue ich hinweg. Ich finde, wenn sich die Seele in dem Stück Erde wiederspiegelt und wenn man sich mit dem identifizieren kann, was man geschaffen hat,ist es zumindest für mich sehr befriedigend.Viele ,die da waren empfanden wohl genauso. Schliesslich lebe ich 365 Tage im Jahr mit meinem Garten.
    Dieses Jahr werde ich wieder einmal die Gartenpforte öffnen und freue mich jetzt schon auf tolle Gespräche und nette Menschen.
    Einen schönen Abend wünsche ich noch,liebe Grüsse, Elke.

    1. Hallo Elke, gut gesagt! Musste schmunzeln bei den Stöckelschuhen…in unserem letzten Garten, der in den Bergen liegt und sehr steil ist, taumelte eine Besucherin -nehme an vor Begeisterung ;)- und fiel fast den Hang hinunter. Da ist man abends froh, wenn alle heil den Garten verlassen haben. Weiterhin viel Freude bei der offenen Gartenpforte 🙂

      1. Mit Stöckelschuhen hatten wir auch ein Gartenerlebnis. Im letzten Jahr bei unserer offenen Pforte kamen zwei nette Frauen, Mutter und Tochter, die zu meinem Erstaunen ihre Stöckelschuhe auszogen, da sie keine Löcher in unseren Rasen machen wollten.!! Und sie waren auch mit gutem Zureden nicht davon abzubringen.(dabei hätte dem Rasen diese Belüftung sicher gut getan)
        Schöne Grüße
        Martina

  20. This is an excellent post. I love to visit gardens, both public and private. I do think it is ethical to criticize in some circumstances, but that does not mean we should forget the imperatives of courtesy, kindness, and fairness. For me the dividing line is whether a garden is maintained by professionals or simply by an avid amateur (like me). We have a local garden walk that I have gone on a couple of times and there is a fee, but most of the gardens are private and maintained without any paid staff. However, I am guilty of one very snarky post about the Festival du Jardin but these were literally show gardens that were putting themselves forward as the gardens of tomorrow. Also I reacted negatively to the megalomania implied by the garden at Versailles (talk about a reflection of the soul). Otherwise I like to think that I emphasize the positive in gardens I see, even when it is not the kind of garden I personally prefer. I have opened my garden three times, twice for the local chapter of a native plant society, so they were people who had very similar tastes and it was a very positive experience. In a sense, though, my front garden is always on display as it is on the street and really stands out. Most of the comments I get are positive, people who don’t approve keep their comments mostly to themselves, which is fine.

    1. I guess I could be quite cheeky too when it comes to reviewing certain show or conceptual gardens, Jason. Versailles is another matter – you don’t hurt anyone personally if you say you don’t like a public garden but I feel for someone like Roy Strong who with his wife has put a lot of thought and soul into the garden, it must be pretty tough. Or maybe he doesn’t care. Feel free to share the links to your reviews and thanks for your comment.

  21. Whenever we can, I load up the girls and the mister and go. I greatly enjoy visiting other gardens and seeing all the different plant and shrub combos and seeing what works better then others. Also, another reason for going is seeing new plants to me to add on to my want list. As for opening my garden I would be afraid of disappointing and not up to others expectations. With that being said I still would have an open days, good reason to clean up the garden or have a deadline to get that one project that I have been meaning to do. What about you?

    1. I love visting other gardens and have respect for the creation of others, so wouldn’t rip their creation apart. I have opened in the past and always met people who took an interest in my work. Then there are others who wouldn’t see beauty if you hit them with it ;). Also as you say it’s a challenge and it’s good to get the place into shape and projects done for that day, even it it means pure madness!

  22. I haven’t stopped by your blog for ages (due to personal reasons, I hasten to add!). This is a fascinating subject that’s aroused a very useful dialogue. I told some people at a dinner party last year, where a Dutch sculptor was present, that being out in the garden for me was my art, the way I expressed myself, the thing that gave my life meaning. Immediately I was met with ‚but it’s not the same thing at all‘ (meaning gardening is not an art, the gardener not an artist). There’s no appropriate response to that.
    As for visiting other people’s gardens. One has been privileged to be invited into someone else’s home/garden. I always, always try to find something (like Don, above) that is positive to say about their gardens. You are commenting on a little bit of their soul, is my belief.
    Public gardens (of which I have worked in a few) are a different story. The Anne Wareham example is a bit tricky – a bit of one’s soul that still has to be paid for?
    Personally I cannot bear competitiveness in any form when related to art. (And have still to learn how to accept criticism serenely – well done Anne Wareham!) We all express ourselves in a way that is appropriate to ourselves. (You can tell I could never be an art critic!) If you don’t like something, you walk away from it, but it’s not your place to criticise someone else’s soul.
    Well done on a thought-provoking post and also well done for clearly being such a thoughtful garden designer with a tricky psychological balancing act to perform.

    1. Hi Cathy, nice to see you again! And why wouldn’t garden making be an art just like sculpting? Artists can be a snobbish at times and often think within a very small circle. I was told recently that there’s a lot of competition going on in higher gardening circles. Glad, I’m not part of it. For me making a good garden is definitely art and gardening one of life’s essentials. Don’t worry, I could never be a critic – I much prefer creating something than ripping other people’s creation apart. Best wishes

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