THE MODERN MINT BLOG
We want to quote today from a book by playwright Steve Waters – The Secret Life Of Plays – as we think it ties in beautifully with a way of thinking about gardening and garden design.
“A play is a space to house a human story and must have give and, well, ‘play’ in it.”
We love this. The quote has important words in, like ‘space ‘and ‘house’ and ‘story’… ‘human’ and ‘give’… the word ‘play’ is so significant it is repeated, and the second time given its own quotation marks!
But replace the word ‘play’ with ‘garden’ (after all, it is ‘gardening’ that we are interested in here) and you get this…
“A garden is a space to house a human story and must have give and, well, ‘garden’ in it.”
When you look at your garden and think about what to do with it – remember that the most important part is not how it looks, but how the people who are going to use it can define themselves against it. Will their human story be one of rest and relaxation, or fun with friends, or a place to play football and cricket? Will they wish to welcome wildlife? Or will the garden be a chemical war-zone designed to fulfill a powerful ambition as dictator of the land, master of all that tries to reside there?
Looking at your garden as a human story that you get to tell – whoever and however many the audience are – moves you from gardener to playwright (‘wright’ means builder, or crafter.)
We would like to think that to look at your garden as a crafter of human stories would mean a release from any worry about whether you are gardening well, or right, or wrong… or any other judgement whatsoever… and give you the space and sense of ‘play’ that enables you to enjoy your garden, to look with kind eyes on your efforts, and best of all use your land to ‘give’ to those around you.
We leave you with this, another quote from the same book by Steve Waters… and wish you all the best as you ‘play’…
“The best work… is where there is a struggle between the elegance of the structure and the raw feeling of what it contains.”
I compiled a list of books using Bookshop, a new online shop to rival Amazon. I like it because it is supporting independent bookshops, helping them out by giving them an audience whilst their own physical premises are closed. The books I’ve listed are not all about gardening, but worth a look through and an order anyway as they are wonderful and have seen me through lockdown – and I hope they bring you some joy too! Check out the books I recommend here.
Hedge laying is something I’ve been meaning to try for a long time, a type of pruning that can bring huge benefits to wildlife as well as looking amazing. So last year I went down to Dorset/the edge of Devon, to spend a day learning to lay a hedge. Hedge laying is a way of building a stock proof fence. It does take time, and some practical and physical skill, but once you get the hang of it I would think developing your instinct about what to prune and where to lay the branches is where the true proficiency arises… …
Fernando Caruncho is a garden designer from Madrid. I am always inspired by his work – his clean lines, ‘green architecture’, sense of proportion, balance and minimal plant palette. This seems to bring out the atmosphere of the garden, the space, intensifying its… spirit. I have written about him a lot – here, for example… and here. But recently I have discovered a few more interviews with him, so thought I would link to his words as he always has something interesting to say, the opposite of prosaic. This first interview from the Society of Garden Designers will give you …