Sunday, 29 June 2008

A small thing but mine own

The Sock often feels irritated by her garden - it isn't big enough but worse than that it is done or just about as done as a garden ever is. It peaked a couple of years ago and continued messing with it in a change for changes sake way has made things worse rather than better. But today the Sock got a reminder of how despite it's shortcomings it really is still something she is proud of.

A walk on the South Downs this afternoon finished in the return through the pretty village of Rodmell. We had by chance stumbled upon Rodmell Open Modern Gardens - a chance to look around some of the village gardens from those of small bungalows to the local manor house. None of the ones we looked at had any real style or design, concept or continuity. For the most part they were merely a mish-mash of car-park shrubbery dumped around the edge of a mowed-for-the-occasion lawn. They were all right. They were pleasant. They were begging for someone with imagination to take them in hand. Even the Bedsock got into one of his rants at the missed opportunity in the manor house garden although his list of what could be done with it somehow included the placement of an infinity pool and a smokery as well as the walled vegetable garden!

To be fair these gardens weren't advertised as part of an NGS style opening, they were just local people offering the public the chance to see their private gardens. The Sock always likes to snoop around other people's plots - so good on them!

When she got home the Sock looked on her own garden more favourably - photo from a couple of years ago when that border 'peaked'.


VP said...

Lovely and I'm exceedingly jealous of your plot. I especially like the way your cat artfully posed for the picture, just in the right spot and looking straight at the camera!

ork said...

I am so glad that you see your garden through fresh eyes and gain pleasure from it. As in most things, we would all like to create the perfect garden. But what is that? I have very little lawn, I favour loose blousy herbaceous planting, I dislike decking and hard landscaping. So where one visitor might enthuse about my garden, another might find it a mess. I can admire other types of garden though.
In our gardens we are not forced to toe the line, it is one place where we can please ourselves. If someone chooses a square lawn with a central slab path and bedding plants either side, then that style may be perfect for them,and may gladden their hearts and that is all that matters.
To say that the gardens you visited today had "no real style or design concept or continuity" and "they were begging for someone with imagination" seems rather elitist to me and not a little snobbish. Do you consider yourself to be that person? Do you know what is right for each owner?
The garden is no place for the style police.
I hope that the other members of the public who wandered around those open gardens today had their minds and eyes more open than you did.

Arabella Sock said...

Hi VP and thank you for your comment. The cat is now very sadly departed but he always let us know it was actually HIS garden.

Ork - I don't disagree with you in terms of what pleases one will not please all and I often see gardens that I don't like but where you can see that someone has put their own design and personality into them and created something special. I didn't see all the gardens that were open but the ones I saw lacked anything that made ME feel drawn in.

As this blog is about ME and my thoughts and ideas you may feel happier not reading it and confining your comments to a messageboard where I'm sure some people will find them interesting and apposite.

SomeBeans said...

I see what you mean by saying it feels finished, if you'd kept some lawn then you'd be able to dig a bit more up once in a while ;-)

Personally I'm rather fond of HappyMouffe's "keep bunging more plants in" design ethic!

ork said...

Somebeans, that's why I have very little lawn left. I cannot resist buying something special and bunging it in where I can.
And Arabella, I am always interested to hear your views as they are usually so different from mine. Life would be so boring if we were all the same, surely?
And I am perfectly happy and do not feel the need to confine myself to messageboards.
You are in the fortunate position of having a delete button, which you can use if I offend you.
I think your own garden is very lovely by the way.

Arabella Sock said...

Hi Somebeans

'Groundforce' ran too long but in it's early days I thanked it for giving me the idea that a garden didn't have to have a lawn! (Or in our case where the lawn was an excuse for a snailfest making it impossible to walk without crunching them underfoot.)

Dan Pearson's TV programme (small town gardens?) was also influential and exciting in moving away from the concept of straight lawn and borders.

I want a new garden challenge as I worry that maybe I only have the one garden in me. So when I see large gardens with ill-used space I can't help but imagine what I might do with them if they were mine. Maybe even have a lawn.

ork said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Fat Rascal said...

I think you are very right to be proud of your garden as I am proud of mine.
It's a shame that if you claim any talent for design or creativity you are considered to be "elitist" and "snobbish".
I've noticed that British designers either have to be totally outrageous and self mocking like LLB or extremely modest and self effacing like Tom Hart Davis to be accepted!
I find it perfectly natural that if you have your own garden then you automatically internally redesign other people's -as well as pinching the ideas that you like. It's not an exclusively negative, arrogant "I could do better" process. Why not be honest about gardens which you find dull and uninspiring?
Isn't that what shows like Chelsea are all about?

Arabella Sock said...

Perhaps uninspiring is the wrong word for 'dull' gardens. In sensing what I find lacking in them and mentally re-designing them I learn more about what I would want from my own.

I know my own mistake has been to be too greedy to have so much of 'everything I wanted in a garden' which is too small for my big ideas. If I had limited my colour palette or textures the overall picture would have been better. And unfortunately that is not a mistake that I learn from because I will return from Hampton Court with a trolley load of impulse buys which will all have to be found a home somewhere.

emmat said...

I completely agree with you, and I don't find it snobbish or elitist to think it's okay to critique gardens. At what point did it become elitist to form critical opinions whilst visiting gardens? I don't imagine you visited any of your opinions on the people whose gardens they were... I think your comment that you think those gardens aren't very good has been confused with the assumption that somehow you are looking down on those gardens from some position of thinking you are socially better than them.

Not only do I believe it's okay to be critical, I actually think it's essential. Gardening seems for many people to be all about Ork's argument that it's just personal, for pleasing ourselves.

Well if that's the case, just don't open your garden. It's really simple. Keep it as your personal sanctuary. And if you do open, you have to be prepared for people to come and judge, because you've invited the public in.

It's necessary for there to be public debate and standards for art - and I think gardening is an art - to flourish. I totally understand that everyone has the right to think their own garden is PERFECT. But I believe that there should be more criticism of gardens than there is now. You wouldn't say at a crap theatre performance, "Oh don't say that about that play, the actors have a right to please themselves, they probably like the play being like that."

PS EXACTLY the same chain of thought happened to me about three weeks ago - see


VP said...

Totally agree Emma. I did photography at college a few years back and we had a weekly critique session of our work both by the tutor and our fellow students. Everyone's work improved immeasurably as a result.