“Is gardening an art form?” by Roger Phillips

November 4, 2007

in Articles, General Interest

by Roger Phillips

As I see building a garden falls somewhere between farming and sculpture. Much of it is driven by necessity and much of it stems from a desire to keep the landscape interesting.

There are many examples of pure sculpture like Ryoan-ji in Japan with stones and rocks creating a miniature landscape, gardens of this type can be seen as pure sculpture. The other end of the scale is the manicured lines of an orchard or a spruce plantation designed for maximum production.

To me a garden needs some of the physical structure of landscape. Rocks, buildings or paths together with the unpredictable elements of plants; the static structural elements will then be forever changing as plants grow, flower, give off scent, attract insects or other creatures, develop new, or drop old leaves,or die. Thus the static sculptural elements will take on a changing aspect, in other words it becomes a living sculpture. The weather; wind, rain, snow and mist, plus the light and shade, sunrise and sunset, all will play a great part in the way the garden is perceived by the visitor. It is a sculpture in which you can walk, sit, drink or sing. In other words it encourages the visitor to play an active role. He or she becomes a part of the garden.

Thus my answer to the question is gardening art? is: a resounding yes. It is a theatrical form of sculpture which involves the new dimension of time and slightly unpredictable changes brought about by the plants which must be built into the gardener/designer’s thinking. A garden is a living sculpture.

Roger Phillips

Roger is renowned in the world of gardening as a writer and photographer; his main work over the last 35 years has been writing and illustrating books on plants of which around 40 volumes have been published. He has a garden at future gardens.

Subscribe to the thinkinGardens Blog

Enter your email address to get new articles from the thinkinGardens blog by email:

Previous post:

Next post: