There’s a very specific image that comes to my mind when I think of famous gardeners. It’s an image of a polite soft-spoken person, drinking tea, weeding the garden and sharing tips about soil health.
The other day I was thinking about how funny it would be to hear the running commentary that goes on in the heads of famous gardeners when they’re looking at other people’s gardens. You know you’re guilty of the same thing!
So let’s take a look at what famous gardeners have said.
Gertrude Jekyll in Wood and Garden
“I do not presume to condemn all mixed planting, only stupid and ignorant mixed planting.”
Kind of makes you wonder what stupid and ignorant mixed planting is.
She tells this story when she was visiting G.F. Wilson’s garden at Wisley in the UK: she “…expressed the regret I felt that so much individual beauty should be there without an attempt to arrange it for good effect. Mr. Wilson stopped, and looking at me straight with a kindly smile, said very quietly, ‘That is your business, not mine.’”
How do you think the rest of the garden tour went? Awkward silence? Oh to be a fly on the wall. It’s good to know that some people know how to handle such a strong opinion.
Another quote I recently read made me think about Instagram and the idea that if you don’t photograph your garden and post it to social media, it really doesn’t exist.
In his book, In My Garden, Christopher Lloyd talks about photographers in the garden. “So engrossed are these people in their hobby that they entirely fail to appreciate the garden they are in.”
Wow! He just described Social Media. When I read his quote, I was hit with a twinge of guilt at my own ridiculous attempts to capture every part of a garden tour before enjoying the garden first. Note to self … just stop.
Turns out there are courageous gardeners who aren’t afraid to share the running commentary in their heads. They aren’t afraid to say it out loud. But is this helpful?
G.F. Wilson didn’t seem to care about Jekyll’s criticism. I highly doubt he redesigned his garden after Jekyll’s visit. On the other hand, if a famous gardener came into my garden and started running through their list of “stupid and ignorant mixed plantings,” I don’t think I’d be so nonchalant.
Why should I care? Isn’t a garden supposed to be made for the owner’s enjoyment?
What would you think if a famous gardener criticized your garden? Would you care? Or would you be like G.F. Wilson? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please share them on my Instagram page or in the comments below.