Gardening evokes emotion, passion and commitment in many people. It is a personal pastime people indulge in, that is enjoyed by the majority. Gardening not only keeps our bodies healthy it also keeps our minds agile and balanced. The benefits provided by establishing and maintaining gardens are numerous.
For over 25 years I have been establishing and maintaining gardens for clients. Recently, sitting back with a “cool ale” in my hand, enjoying the sunshine and warmth of spring in the solitude of my garden led me to ponder, “why do we garden?” and “what constitutes a great garden”?
What drives us to garden. Traditionally the Australian garden was one with minimal pretence. It was a place to hang out the washing, enjoy a barbeque with friends, a place to park the boat or caravan, a place to grow some fruit and vegetables as well as the flowers to provide beauty. It was a place to hang your head over the fence and have a yarn with the neighbours. Basically it was a place for the family to grow and enjoy as well as providing some fundamental benefits to improve and maintain our lifestyles.
Gardens of today are very different. The complexities of life in the 21st century are radically changing the face of our gardens.
Our homes and gardens present a face to our friends and the community at large. It is a manifestation of our persona. Manicured gardens dominate the day in an attempt to achieve low maintenance and a garden that is admired and accepted by our friends. Boring buxus, overrated birch and red photinia hedges are the norm.
However a change is in the wind. The realities of life in the 21st century are changing the reasons why we garden.
Ecological gardens are on the increase. The growing of quality fruit and vegetables is becoming more important. Caring for our environment is important. Climate change means we have to be more astute in the use of resources. Our natural environment needs our green hands to repair and heal to ensure its continued existence.
What then makes a great garden? To me it should be a place where we can relax and unwind from the pressures of modern life. It should provide some food for the kitchen. It should provide habitat for native wildlife and shelter from the elements. It should be a place to enjoy with friends. It should provide wonder and enjoyment for adults and children. It should contribute to our natural resources, not deplete them and of course be accepted and admired by our friends. Sustainability is now the name of the game.
The common mis-perception that native gardens are ‘ugly‘ leads to the friends of many of my new clients to ask the question “why are you planting natives?“ They go on and extol many of the myths surrounding natives: They are short lived, they go woody, they don’t grow in my area. They are ugly… The list goes on.