There’s an image that comes to mind when I think about famous gardeners. I imagine polite, soft-spoken people, drinking tea, weeding and sharing tips about soil health. How funny would it be to hear the running commentary that goes on in their heads when they’re looking at a garden they dislike?
Let’s take a look at what some 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. More importantly, are any of those ignorant mixed plantings in my backyard?
Jekyll 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 any 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 some people know how to handle a strong opinion.
Another quote I recently read made me think about Instagram. The crazy notion that if you don’t photograph it and post it to social media, it 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! Has he been following me around? When I read Lloyd’s quote, I was hit with a twinge of guilt at my ridiculous attempts to capture every part of a garden visit before enjoying the garden first. Note to self … just stop.
Turns out there are gardeners who aren’t afraid to share the running commentary in their heads. They aren’t afraid to say it out loud. But is it helpful to share opinions?
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.