Saturday, October 28, 2006

Oscar Wilde and the art of independent gardening

DD One
Now that we have snow, we are officially released to think about next years gardening. The data is in, the reports are out and the forecasts have been published. We’ve all read them - what’s in and what’s out for the 2007 garden season. Am I the only one who thinks some of this stuff is just a bit silly?

Trends that will be passé by next year, as reported by The Garden Media Group at the Garden Writers Association 2007 Symposium in Philadelphia in August, are: indoor living, everyday gardens, shabby chic gardens, chemical needy gardens, peek-a-boo accessories, flower-only gardens, time consuming gardens, basic plants, store bought veggies, colorless masses and daytime only gardens. Wow! Where do I begin?

Let’s see. I guess the trend setters don’t live anywhere too cold, and by the sound of it, don’t believe in shopping at the grocery store when it’s zero degrees outside. It’s a little hard to raise designer veggies at these temperatures, unless, of course, I’m the one who’s confused. As for chemical needy gardens, flowers only and time consuming concerns; I think they’re a little behind the times, don’t you? After all, that’s pretty much what good gardening is all about – time to enjoy your outdoor space without being its slave; healthy, chemical free flowers, fruits and veggies; and who has time to garden during the day anyway? And have colorless masses even been ‘in’?. Hmm.

What about the ‘in’ trends? Outdoor living is in. That’s novel. Escape gardens, streamlined gardens, eco-chic gardens, small space gardening, larger than life accents, foliage, multi-tasking gardens, fancy plants, designer veggies, masses of color, and 24 hour gardens. Great scott! They really haven’t been to Alaska, have they? 24 hour gardens are a way of life up here.

Escape garden, I suspect, is really a new name for what has long been called a secret garden or a private space - nothing too new here, although why they have to be re-named every few years to keep them in the forefront is beyond me. Streamlining is another way of saying formal, semi-formal and trim lines are returning to favor over the age-old cottage or ‘everyday’ garden mentioned on the ‘out’ list. Nothing wrong with wanting a little order I suppose, but I fail to see how it couples with the multi-tasking, time saving line of reason. Those lovely trim lines just don’t happen – there’s a lot of work behind them. Perhaps it’s meant to be balanced against those darn shabby chics on the ‘out list’.

Eco-chic says we should use environmentally friendly products and techniques. Again, I thought these things have always been at home in the garden. Maybe not. Some of us have always pushed great foliage and small space gardening has been the rage for a while, not to mention a practical necessity for much of the world. Designer vegetables are fun and lovely, but I’m not ready to throw the cabbage out with the compost water just yet. I’d like to see a nice borsch made from designer greens. That leaves us with fancy plants and larger than life accents. Now we’re talking. What fun!

I have this vision of a lovely, though somewhat streamlined, small space garden dominated by a 7 foot, human shaped urn; designer vegetables, outrageous foliage and bazaaro plants flowing from its head. Actually, I rather like it.

I guess I don’t see the big deal with all this – apparently I’m not interested in someone else’s idea of a great garden. May be it’s because I lived so long here in the land of independent thinkers. Here, where I’m proud to grow the old-favorites along side the new because they are such good friends. Here where fashion seems to touch us so lightly. Here where the trend setters live thousands of miles away. By the time a ‘hot’ trend floats our way, it has often moved on or circled back to something we still like that we were supposed to have stopped liking several years ago.

Garden on, I say. Let’s be proud of our diversity and flaunt it. Plant what makes you happy and makes good soup. Embrace garden art that makes your heart jump. Love those bleeding hearts! Fling refined, good taste to the wind. Oscar Wilde reminded us, ”Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry…” Thank you, irreverent Sir! Pray, let this not happen to us.


Diva One, and Diva Two said...

Just a note: The flowering vegetables shown in this post are Swiss Chard and Cauliflower. You should try letting some of your prettier veggies go. Not only to they look so great late in the year, they make long lasting cut flowers as well! Try throwing a few celery plants in the perennial row and let them go. They are stately and guite lovely.

Julie said...

Hey, Y'all,

I was trying to find your email address to send an Oscar Wilde photo I believe you'd enjoy. I'm getting pretty blind, maybe missed the email info on your site??

Drop me a line if you like
and I'll send the photo on.

Good wishes

Blackswamp_Girl said...

Your Swiss Chard is blooming?! Mine still looks great, but no blooms in sight there. (Too bad, because I would love to collect seeds from them.)