Gardens are simultaneously a material and a spiritual undertaking. That’s hard for scientists, so fully brainwashed by Cartesian dualism, to grasp. “Well, how would you know it’s love and not just good soil?” she asks. “Where’s the evidence? What are the key elements for detecting loving behavior?”
That’s easy. No one would doubt that I love my children, and even a quantitative social psychologist would find no fault with my list of loving behaviors:
• nurturing health and well-being
• protection from harm
• encouraging individual growth and development
• desire to be together
• generous sharing of resources
• working together for a common goal
• celebration of shared values
• sacrifice by one for the other
• creation of beauty
If we observed these behaviors between humans, we would say, “She loves that person.” You might also observe these actions between a person and a bit of carefully tended ground and say, “She loves that garden.” Why then, seeing this list, would you not make the leap to say that the garden loves her back?
The exchange between plants and people has shaped the evolutionary history of both.
Excerpt from Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Kimmerer
I want to add a final note on here: we should be careful not to mistake the technical features of a garden for the ethos of gardening. We have reached the point in the gardening hype train where people seem to think backlinks, hover previews, and visual graphs are what define a "digital garden."
This is misguided. Gardening is a practice that treats a personal website as a constantly evolving landscape where you develop your ideas in public.
a) Explorable, rather than structured as a strictly linear steam of posts. This is usually achieved through deeply interlinking notes where readers can navigate freely through the content.
b) Slowly grown over time, rather than creating "finished" work that you never touch again. You revise, update, and change your ideas as they develop, and ideally find a way to indicate the "done-ness" state to your reader.
No framework, platform, plug-in, service, or fun interface element defines a garden, and never will. Do whatever works for you, at whatever technical level feels comfortable. Just keep gardening 🪴
DETACHED SENTENCES ON GARDENING (Ian Hamilton Finlay)
Installing is the hard toil of garden making, placing is its pleasure.
Superior gardens are composed of Glooms and Solitudes and not of plants and trees.
A liberal’s compost heap is his castle.
Solitude in gardens is an aspect of scale.
Certain gardens are described as retreats when they are really attacks.
Ecology is Nature-Philosophy secularised.
Gardening activity is of five kinds, namely, sowing, planting, fixing, placing, maintaining. In so far as gardening is an Art, all these may be taken under the one head, composing.
Better than truth to materials is truth to intelligence.
The inscription seems out of place in the modern garden. It jars on our secularism by suggesting the hierarchies of the word.
Brown made water and lawns (&c.) Palladian elements, as much as Lord Burlington did, his columns and porticos.
Brown made water appear as Water, and lawn as Lawn.
The gardens of Kent and Brown were mistakenly referred to the Chinese aesthetic, just as today’s thoughtful gardens are considered to be Japanese. ‘Japanese garden’ has come to signify no more than ‘art garden’. The contemporary ‘sculpture park’ is not – and is not considered to be – an art garden, but an art gallery out-of-doors. It is a parody of the classical garden native to the West.
The main division of gardens is into art gardens and botanical gardens. Compared to this division all the others – ‘The Garden as Music’, ‘The Garden as a Poem’ - & etc. – are superficial.
A bench, in our modern gardens, is a thing to be sat upon; in Shenstone’s Leasowes it was a thing to be read.
As public sex was embarrassing to the Victorians, public classicism is to us.
Composition is a forgotten Art.
Artificial gardens – as Lamb describes them – now strike us as not at all artificial, since they have been made ‘natural’ by time.
"You know what makes a garden?
Gardens aren't just about the thriving of the desired plants. They're also about the non-thriving of the non-desired plants.
And weeding is hard work, and it's boring, and it's tedious, and it's unsexy."
Gardening is not just a set of tasks. It’s not restricted to backyards, courtyards, balconies. It can, and should, happen anywhere, everywhere. Gardening is simply a framework for engagement with our world, grounded in care and action. To garden is to care deeply, inclusively, and audaciously for the world outside our homes and our heads. It’s a way of being that is intimately interwoven with the real truths of existence—not the things we’re told to value (money, status, ownership), but the things that actually matter (sustenance, perspective, beauty, connection, growth).
– Georgina Reid, Audacious Gardening: On Daring to Care