Saturday, March 8, 2014

Sudden understanding

Note: why has Blogger made it so virtually impossible to write in paragraphs now? I assure this piece was written in them. Sorry it appears such a horrible chunk here. Just finished a short piece in a book called Vista about criticism of gardens -in the sense of reviews, rather than negativity. The author doesn't pull punches. . Yesterday afternoon in the library I looked through a book by Alan Titchmarsh about his current private garden. . I've been mulling over these two and trying to get my thoughts in order. Something was bubbling at the back of my mind. I didn't like AT's garden, but it contained so many elements that I have loved elsewhere that I couldn't figure out why. Anne Wareham's article emphasises aesthetic standards which seem daunting and even irrelevant - but it also piqued me into seeing our garden radically differently. How do these two interact? . I called to mind my favourite gardens: Horsham Museum's, and Leonardslee. So utterly different that at first it's hard to discren any common factor, but still it quickly came to me that they are places of overwhelming individual identity. When inside, you could never be anywhere else. Horsham's stone court is domestic and self-contained, on a small scale; I've never been there and wished the time of year to be different: the intensity of the scale forces a concentration of effort and attention that makes every square inch tell and relate to the whole. It knows who it is, what it is, what it's about. Leonardslee is all hammer-ponds, mature trees and rhododendrons, but its steep valley is just as enclosed, as rich, as comfortable in what it is. . My taste is for a garden to be sui generis. For a tea-break a quick flick through a magazine is pleasant; for a day out, a stroll around other people's rolling acres is refreshing. But I don't want a garden of exquisitely rendered elements lifted from around the horticultural world. It must be its own world. . I don't know how this relates to more formalised aesthetic ideas. My notion of such is blurry to say the least. But this hard thinking about what I'm about is effecting me radically. It is not about making the best of what we have, or tidying up, or putting in colour. I've been distracted from our ideas and our space. No more scrap-book gardening. It's about what it's about.