Monday, June 9, 2008

Garden Envy

I have garden envy and I've been sitting here trying to decide if that is a bad thing. I wouldn't say that I'm jealous or "green" with envy. I just sometimes admire others' gardens in a way that makes something stir inside of me. I want what they have. I don't want to give up what I have though. I'm not dissatisfied with what I've got. I just want to make what I've got better or different.

When this feeling stirs inside me, I want to run from the admired garden and start planting furiously in my own. I get filled with ideas that are ready to pour out. I feel creative. I have a realization like "AHA! All I need to do to add this atmosphere to my garden is to plant (fill in plant of the moment here.)" Or, "AHA! All I need to do is hang more wind chimes, build a trellis, etc. etc."

When I walk into a garden that inspires me, I feel like I walked into a great story that someone else wrote. (Have you ever gotten so involved in a reading a narrative, that the fiction felt like it was your real life?) I have become one of the characters of this other story. I have become the GARDENER . But, when I finally do get home, I realize that this alternate world really doesn't fit mine.

I have realized my propensity to project other people's garden taste onto my own space for a while. I began contemplating this phenomenon in earnest yesterday after my daughter and I attended a "garden party" hosted by two of the gardeners I interviewed for my book last year. Their gardens are amazing. They spend a great deal of time in their spaces, have a lot of knowledge, and have transformed their lands into gardeners' paradise.

I walked among the first garden, which was created by Karen, and felt transformed. Her fields are already blooming furiously. My colors are just getting under way. I said to myself while admiring her lupine, "This is missing from my space. I must plant lupine!" My mind wound around the realization that lupine is a missing character in my story. "And anemones! So, this is what you can do with anemones! And listen to those wind chimes in the warm summer breeze. What a wonderful idea to hang them from all the trees." My main source of envy for her garden is of her large space between horse fields and fruit trees. Here she has a garden just stuffed with all kinds of wonderful perennials. At first glance, the space looks like a field of wildflowers, but when one looks closer, one can see that it is a well planned space bursting with color. After viewing this, I then moved on to the second gardener, Emily's space. Her gardens wrap around her house, leading one around the yard to reveal a rolling country landscape in her backyard. Her gardens are very different from Karen's, but equally enticing. "AH! primrose. I don't have those! And her columbine steals the show back here!" My mind furiously wove the gardens into my own story, trying to think of them as the backdrop for my activities in my own yard.

When I arrived home, something felt wrong as soon as I started up the driveway. My property is slanted. It doesn't resemble the spaces of either Karen or Emily at all. Everything is terraced. I can't create a large square, flat wildflower field. I have no rolling hills. The back of my house stares at trees. I sighed as I began pulling my mind out of someone else's story. Then I began admiring my little rose garden and the way I have fairy roses wrapping around a fenced area of the yard. I smiled at the daisies, running along the first terraced wall that welcomes me home. I looked for my favorite plants that feel like old friends. They are characters whom I know quite well and with which I can personally identify.

This works for me. With each bout of garden envy, I learn how to weave another person's creative ideas into my own garden spaces just a little bit. Gardeners have different landscapes that we mold based on our knowledge, experiences and tastes. The landscape, like the gardener must also be the central character of the story, for it can only be molded by the gardener so much. I realized that there were many things about the others' gardens that didn't excite me. I will not be recreating Karen's rock garden for example. It is beautiful, but I don't have rocky crags requiring this kind of gardening.

So, all in all, I think a little garden envy is not a bad thing. I think I have now come to terms with it.

(blogger isn't letting me post photos at the moment. I'll try ot put some up of the gardens later)

1 comment:

Megan said...

The coolest thing about visiting other gardens is that you can weave a portion of their story into your own space and yet, it is yours. Just like no one will ever write like me or take photographs like me, no one will ever garden exactly like me.

Or, You.~~Dee