Wednesday, 6 May 2009

A testament to your what???

Well yeah, and that wasn't even the best part of the discussion. What discussion? Check the previous post.

(Things heated up after this part of my argument below...)

'All forms of gardening are about the gardener's testament to his own cleverness. After all, in most cases he'll have taken a plant out of its natural habitat and manipulated the environment in order for that plant to flourish. If that isn't a sign of his talent, what is?'

(Wait for it....)

'Yes that covers ALL aspects of gardening - even mowing the lawn is a demonstration of your cleverness as a gardener.'

Now that was the bit that sparked off debate for some reason. Cutting the grass as a statement of your own personality / creative intelligence? Let's see; the hypotheses set forward were:
- It's more about our obsession with tidiness than any true artistic skill.
- It's a desire to conform to the general look & feel of the neighbourhood.
- It's an effort not be seen as less influential or upstanding as the neighbours.
- It's a reflection of personal aesthetics - some people go through the trouble of putting stripes on their lawns and others don't even bother.
And so on....

Yet aren't all the statements above 'me, me, me, me' statements? I know I don't get my lawn tended to for the visual pleasure of the folks next door.

After all, how many people would take on an endeavour with a view to this being a monument to their own stupidity? Personally, I don't think there are a lot who would admit to that, but just in case you actually have done it, would you raise your hand? Pleeze? In an effort to edify the rest of us?

Go on, you know you want to....


  1. Isn’t it just typically English to be self effacing and modest about one’s achievements. But hang on a minute why shouldn’t we be proud of our efforts, why shouldn’t we share our achievements with others whether it is a well kept containerised plant or a neatly trimmed front lawn. If it brings others pleasure then surely it should bring us pleasure too.
    Is it all about the ego ‘me’? Well I suppose on some deep psychological level it is, we are all human after all and the human condition is to seek acceptance. But if you really want an alternative view on over identification with the self then seek out some websites on non-duality (advaita). That stuff will really blow you away.

    But back to the motives for competing and using gardening as a vehicle for self expression or as a testament to our own cleverness. Yes there is an element of pride in both but I would like to think there is also an element of enhancing the lives of those around us by bringing some visual pleasure to others. For example, how many of us walk past a beautiful garden or bonsai and think ‘smart alec’? More likely, we enjoy the effect and compliment the gardener.

  2. Thanks for the comment! Agree with you there.
    I generally have no problem with me, me, me until it infringes on the me, me, me of someone else.
    And horticultural exuberance - especially when it benefits both the viewer and the artist - is more innocuous than other forms of self-expression.
    And what about topiary? Some of that is like - WOW, a statement or wot?