Sunday, 2 October 2011

Re-Introduction (02 OCT 2011)

Alistair commented on my previous post : “Revisiting what we have already talked about in the past is very difficult to avoid when garden blogging.”.  It was timely; I’ve been thinking about this quote all week … How many times can one observe a subject deeper or from a different angle before boredom sets in for the writer let alone the readers?
When I blogged about nicotiana last October, it was a minimal post.  Apart from lab write-ups and reports for work, it was the first piece of prose that I’d written since leaving school. I remember criticising as there were too many “I”s considering the brevity of the text, so some were taken out, resulting in broken (though less egotistical) English. The photo became my icon, as it was the only one available which was in focus.  At that time I hadn’t fully appreciated their smokiness and stickiness, how the flower stems started out in life prim and proper, then on reaching middle-age pointed haphazardly in all directions, baring stamens and stigmas unashamedly. I didn’t predict they would self-seed and become a signature plant in my garden.

middle-aged nicotiana

Slugs & snails were mentioned in that first post to pad out the words, though I hadn't even inspected properly to understand my true feelings towards them, just deciding that they shouldn't be killed unecessarily, more so they wouldn't have to be dealt with than out of kindness. I would never have guessed they would be sought for photos or that a situation would arise where one would be touched by accident with an ungloved finger - it felt like a drop of water.
  
snail knocked off a plant

In the About this Blog section, I wrote that since reading The Secret Garden I had wanted a garden of my own; during the past year it dawned on me that this garden belongs as much to the slugs & snails as it does to me. Extending this idea, multiplying by more than a trillion, I realise that the rest of the land area of this planet belongs to me as much as any other person or creature - a thought that hadn't occurred to me before my experiments with plants.
They have not been as scientific as imagined when this blog was entitled - it was more difficult to set up controlled conditions than anticipated. In fact it is the lack of control that adds excitement and I am relieved to take the roles of observer & assistant rather than creator & controller for a change, lifting the weight of responsibility from my shoulders not only when I'm gardening.
Would you believe me if I said my garden has changed my approach to life? … or maybe it’s a coincidence that I’ve become happier, braver, more hopeful and sociable in the past year. The previous gardener and my mother must have known this secret; they had in common a love of roses which I have inherited. When I was young, I used to wonder why my mother bothered with gardening, knowing full well that there would be harsh winters and watering bans in the summer that would disrupt her efforts. Yet after high winds recently damaged my own garden, experiments continued as if nothing had happened; now I recognise that the process is more valuable than the final display.
©Copyright 2011 b-a-g. All rights reserved. Content created by b-a-g for http://experiments-with-plants.blogspot.com/2011/10/re-introduction-02-oct-2011.html

25 comments:

gardenwalkgardentalk.com said...

This is a thought provoking post looking into both gardening and blogging. I tend to agree with how much one can say about a particular plant, but your personal experience with it may differ. Your talking in first person adds a more homey feeling to the blog, like sitting down with friends. I can believe your approach to gardening has changed your life, as I hear that from clients from initial design and installation to years after with them enjoying their role and interaction in their environment. And your experiments, not in a lab, are a lot more interesting because the outcomes are less predictable have many variables not within your control. I enjoyed your retrospective look at your first posting.

Stacy said...

b-a-g, I've been thinking about what Alistair said; it's something I've been mulling over, too. As you say, how many times can we approach the same things from different angles? If your post today is anything to go by, certainly more than once. Reading your first post with this one, as your blog has unfolded, you seem now to have a whole different approach to language, the poetry of it, the wonder of sharing with the lives in your garden.

It's been a pleasure to go along on your gardening adventures for the last however-many months. Congratulations on the first anniversary of your blog!

Malar said...

Gardening really teach us amny things in our life! It's wonderful job!

thesproutlingwrites said...

Great post! :)

patientgardener said...

I see myself as the guardian/caretaker of my garden it will be there in some form long after I have gone. I shared it with the birds, insects, mammals etc and they have just as much right to be there as me. I dont understand the approach to killing things because they eat a plant, grow something different.

On your opening note having blogged for four years I dont think I have written about the same specific thing more than once (although I could well be wrong). I think blogging and photographing the garden makes you more observant and this leads your mind to open more and more and so your blog expands more and more

greggo said...

Nice retrospective.

Alistair said...

b-a-g, I am learning a lot from yourself, your attitude to gardening and your way with words. I am now not only sharing my garden with the slugs and snails I am also letting my neighbours have some of mine.

One said...

How interesting! Is this why you thought of 'evolution'? I took photos of a snail today...plus many other critters.

Carolyn ♥ said...

I enjoyed this post, your words allow me to think of what I feel. I do love gardening and blogging. They both bring joy and enable me to share a part of me that is very important... my love of all things living. Yes, I let the snails live... but only in my garden clippings refuse container that takes them on vacation each week.

HolleyGarden said...

Well, we get the lessons over every year! And yet we don't get tired of them. We see something new in the lesson every year. I think that's why people keep gardening. It's ever-challenging, and an ever-learning process.

Elephant's Eye said...

Happy blogaversary!

The display TA DA is just a moment. But the planning and the doing and the taking time to smell the roses - that is what makes life worth living, what makes a gardener garden!

b-a-g said...

Thanks Donna & Stacy - It amazes me that both of you publish posts more often than I do my laundry, yet the word repetition never comes to mind.

Thanks Malar, Sproutling & Greggo - appreciate you visiting my blog anniversary party.

Helen - Four years of blogging (and tolerating garden pests) is a major achievement. Gardening is certainly opening up my mind too.

Thanks Alistair - that's quite a compliment coming from you. Hope Myra doesn't mind the slugs and snails or I'll have a lot to answer for.

One - Yes, I have evolved into a critter admirer, mainly thanks to you.

Thanks Carolyn - I have to admit that I've slipped a few in there too.

Thanks Holley & Diana - I started gardening and blogging in the same year, I can't imagine doing one without the other. Without the garden, I wouldn't have anything to write about. Without the blog, I would probably spend too much time just smelling the roses.

NHGarden said...

I love it... another way to think of snails :)

Donna said...

What a fabulous post. Absolutely your garden changes who you are...nature and interacting with it can only make us better, smarter and more authentic. Your experiments have been invaluable and enjoyable. I like the fact that they are not so controlled but more in line with what Mother Nature dishes out...

Andrea said...

I noticed all of you have deep thoughts in here, so i will chose the shallow approach! I am familiar with Nicotiana but i only know the one used to make cigarettes, i didn't know there is a lovely cousin. Congratulations for the change gardening has made you. I maybe have put gardening to greater heights as my degrees in school is based on plants, worked as a scientist in the lab way back but though we work on plants we seldom see or touch plants. When science goes so specialized you tend to veer away from the more complicated plant. So when i left the lab, I always wanted to be with them, plat them, tend them as a whole organism in its environment. And the touch of soil provide the literal grounding for me.

Indie said...

Great post. It is impressive how nature draws you in and takes you on little adventures. The more we explore, the more we see, the more we realize that there is so much more to discover, and many times we gardeners are just taken along for the ride.

Congratulations on one year of sharing this gardening exploration!

Patty said...

Funny that this topic should come up as I have often decided not to post on something because I have already done so and don't want to bore or seem repetitive. Alistair's comment and your post have opened my eyes a little wider. It is time to rethink old posts, or maybe just to THINK.

linniew said...

A thought-provoking moment among your insights b-a-g. Perhaps our gardens are actually cultivating US. It does seem to me, more and more, that life is quite a different thing than we are taught.

b-a-g said...

Thanks Chris & Welcome - I try not to go on about the slugs & snails too much, but they play a significant role in my garden.

Thanks Donna & Indie - I wish I'd discovered nature a long time ago.

Thanks Andrea - A shallow approach is fine with me. When I discovered that nicotiana was also called the tobacco plant, I mashed up a leaf, had a good sniff and convinced myself that I could smell tobacco. It certainly smells smoky, in a nice way. My mother's childhood ambition was to be a botanist, but she was guided in a different direction. She realised her dreams in the garden too.

Patty - I wish that you did blog more often, I look forward to your posts, often reading them twice. Don't forget the new readers who haven't met you before.

b-a-g said...

Linnie - I love your idea of them cultivating us. Re: Life, I found this quote for a previous post on biology on-line : "All living organisms begin in the same form: as a single cell. That cell will divide and the resulting cells will continue dividing and differentiate into cells with various roles to carry out within the organism. This is life and plants are no different."

Reading this put my "life" into perspective.

catharine Howard said...

A wonderful look at the inside reasons for gardening and the power of good it can do. Just been volunteering for horticultural therapy charity which has left me in reflective mood.

Cathy and Steve said...

Very thought-provoking introspection. So far, we have not run out of ideas for "new" posts, but I can see that day coming, where we revisit topics we've already covered.

Our garden has definitely changed the way we live and the way we look at life. We take time to appreciate beauty with all of our senses, and we take great pleasure from cultivating beauty. I fully believe that in terms of health (ours), it's been restorative.

Thanks for putting into words some things we knew intuitively but have never articulated.

b-a-g said...

Thanks Catherine - I'm a believer in horticultural therapy too.

Welcome Cathy & Steve - you sound like a lovely couple. Enjoyed your post on "repose".

Janet/Plantaliscious said...

What a lovely post, I can't believe I missed it. "Middle aged nicotiana" is a great phrase. And yes, I absolutely believe that gardening has changed your approach to life, the same has happened to me, gradually, without my even realising it. I don't know if I am excited or depressed by the idea that the whole planet belongs to me. Both I suppose, given the state so much of it is in. But I too subscribe to the "guardian/caretaker" view of gardening, which is part of the reason why I won't stop tending and attempting to improve the garden until I walk out of it for the last time and into my new guardianship.

b-a-g said...

Thanks Janet - I actually worked it out : the land surface area of the planet is about 149 million km2 and my garden is less than a trillionth of that.

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