Comment on Sara Maitland’s response to Anne Wareham’s article “The love that dare not speak its name”
I accept Sara Maitland’s criticisms of my previous comments. Perhaps I was allowing my insecurities to show but I had just read the ‘Discussion’ section of the Symposium and my reactions were in reply to that. This is what I read:
“The dearth of gardens past and present with ambition to develop a provocative agenda. The sad fact that most people who commission a garden designer want comfy beauty, not a thoughtful garden, and that it is up to designers to wean clients towards a more ambitious agenda. The assumption that because gardens are widely seen as merely soothing and comfy, the making of them must also be a soothing process, whereas a garden can also be as troublingly, intellectually provocative to the maker as it is to his/her subsequent audience.”
I read that, looked around my modest plot and felt inadequate, probably rightly. As a designer I may do my best to encourage ambition (honest) but if the person who is paying the piper wishes to call the tune then I remember that I have bills to pay. I might sneak in a thoughtful reference or bit of planting if possible but this can demand skills in more than just design terms. I have great sympathy with the thinkinGardens ideas.
Most of the letters and ideas are positive and stimulating but I do think it can sometimes be off putting in its militancy. If people such as myself feel undermined by such lofty ideals (on a bad day) then perhaps it could be counterproductive. Of course it could be that I simply am inadequate and should forget about art and revert to planting alternate lumps of Alyssum and Lobelia rows in six inch wide borders with a cross and defiant expression on my face. Or would that be post-modern of me? A Jeff Koons sort of garden!