Noel Kingsbury on “The love that dare not speak its name”

August 10, 2007

in Articles, General Interest

Comment on Anne Wareham’s article on beauty and gardens

A successful garden, like any work of art, can surely be appreciated on several different levels. Indeed I would argue that its ability to be so appreciated is one of the criteria one can use for critical evaluation. If it is beautiful, and conveys aesthetic pleasure to a broad cross-section of people, and also conveys meaning, but perhaps only to a much narrower band, of more educated people (in the broadest sense), then I would say it should be valued highly.

If it achieves yet more, for example, high biodiversity, originality, or whatever other values we might rate gardens, for, then it should be valued yet more highly. Gardens are, and should be, such multi-faceted places. And yet beauty is somehow quite fundamental to the nature of what most of us understand as ‘garden’. A not-beautiful garden is somehow almost not-a-garden – an installation perhaps? The fact that beauty is so intrinsic to the widely understood idea of what a garden is perhaps, one of those factors which accounts for its current low status; however it also builds into the whole concept of what a garden is, that we expect it to be beautiful and inevitably judge it on the basis of whether it is beautiful or not. Beauty and garden-ness are somehow inextricably linked.

Noel Kingsbury

Noel Kingsbury’s website

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