Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Gardening as art.

It’s early morning, Little O is back in her cot sleeping, the cat is curled up in the first rays of the day, Anna sleeps on from the night and the garden is cool and quiet; the perfect time for a cuppa and a morning stroll barefoot across the lawn. Nothing sharpens the appreciation of a garden as when it proves to be the most perfect balance to everything else.

When the outside world gets a bit hectic it’s our own personal retreat, whether that’s to sit with a cuppa and appreciate or get the tools out and go for a bit of shake up. This is one of the joys of gardening, the ability to work alongside your mood, to do whatever you feel the need to that day. In the same way artists can express themselves through paint, stone, poetry, and various other mediums we can to do through nature. If you looked straight down on a collection of houses and gardens you’d have a set of paintings as interesting as anything hanging in a gallery and a stroll in a garden can be as textural and grand as any sculpture.
The difference being, that when a painter has finished with a canvas they can put it to one side and start a fresh, they don’t come back to it the following week to find that the red is spreading, the fine lines have begun to blur and there’s tiny blobs of weedy green appearing everywhere. On the other hand they can’t after a couple of years decide that the picture would look better if slightly rearranged or a whole new section incorporated.
A well balanced and pleasing garden is one that you don’t notice as a created space in the same way you don’t see the lump of rock that is the sculpture or the paint that is the picture. Plants should have their place in the garden whether that’s as a specimen or part of a more complete display, too often we hang on to a struggling or ill placed plant even though it throws the rest of the garden off kilter.

The logical side of this is that we as gardeners should feel free to see ourselves as artists, after all the connection between artist and garden is an old one. If we looked at the garden like a snapshot, a well timed photograph then maybe we’d be more inclined to be a bit adventurous, I’m not suggesting we go as far as to divert the local stream to make the garden more picturesque like Monet did, but a smaller change could be just as bold.
Down near the sea I have the pleasure of working for two neighbouring gardens, along the top of their dividing garden wall grows a vigourous ivy with hebe, holly and bay trees either side. Long has been my battle to keep this clipped and under control until recently I noticed a natural circle appearing in the foliage, with a bit of neatening not only does the ivy have a focus of interest but each neighbour gets glimpses of colour and interest from the next garden without disturbing privacy.

I recommend going out and having a good hard look at your garden, see it as the vast moveable canvas of plants and features it is. Does it need a splash of colour somewhere or edges redefined? Maybe a new coat of wood stain on the shed or a climber to ramble over new heights?
You don’t need to go all Capability Brown on the garden but at least consider having a little play with what you’ve got. You might be surprised at the artist inside you.