I don't know if you remember me - but I am Paul and I have a postage stamp sized garden below a coal tip in South Wales.
I wanted to write to you about boundaries, they have been on my mind since Thursday evening when Eleanor Flaherty, artist, filmmaker and friend talked about what our next theme could be in our little art group. I know you love boundaries/hedges.
Have you read The Bad Tempered Gardener by Anne Wareham? Well I have and I identify with a lot of her views on gardening and the gardening industry. I think the frustrations expressed in her book arise with many aspects of this 21st Century life - work, politics, religion.
I have read some of your views on religion which I share, I am a bad tempered Christian. Talk about box hedges - why oh why do we try and stuff awkward messy human beings into boxes and boundaries? Being territorial creates so many problems - yet it still seems to be a fundamental part of who we are, we like to create boundaries. I remember being struck by the open gardens of houses in New Hampshire U.S.A. You could walk from one front garden to another without crossing a wall, fence or hedge. Perhaps they have a confidence which we lack?
I have faith which is boundless and open, I experience it in that way, yet the structure of many 'church' organisations seems to want to contain it in ways that make us live dishonestly. Gardens have imperfections and ugly bits (unless you have pots of money and a garden designer to hand) so do we. I laughed loudly on tuesday night when Eleanor recounted the story of the slaughter of a vicious pheasant. Eleanor is usually a gentle soul, but she became so enraged by the unwanted attentions of a meanacing and persistant cock pheasant in her garden, that she slew him with a wooden sword then stood weeping over its flapping corpse - tears of joy and relief. Alleluiah !
I digress. Boundaries can be beneficial both in the garden and in life - we do need them to feel safe and to keep out pests. It is how what is contained within them is expressed that makes the difference. I want to show that I am weak and vulnerable at times, but I don't then want a list of solutions and rules to provide the 'cure'. I believe the cure comes when we can safely express our fears and insecurities within the hedge of acceptance.
So hedges - for boxing in and keeping things under a lid ? NO. For containing and protecting freedom of expression ? YES.
We need plant knowledge (we are told) in order to make a garden - well perhaps, but I can't help feeling that knowledge kills creativity. To quote you Monty....'I have no more botany than a bird '
And to quote Anne Wareham .... '.... it echoes my own intuitive sense that the pleasure we find in scent, sights and sounds goes deep.'
Cheers again Monty...do let me know if you are fed up of my letters.