Picture me last week, relaxing at the beach in North Carolina, swimming daily, using SPF 40 under a tent, trying not to mix the margaritas much before 5 p.m.—but fie! Our nicely-appointed cottage is cursed with blazing wi-fi internet access and all three couples have misguidedly brought their laptops along, leaving ourselves wide open to the evil intrusions of the outside world.
Long story short, I got an email Monday that an op-ed piece by Scott Calhoun on the back page of the July/August Horticulture (the column is confidently called High Ground) mentioned me personally and GR in general as being contemptuous of the garden design/landscaping industry. Here’s a quote:
Elizabeth Licata mentioned in a gardenrant.com post (April 10, 2008) that she very often sees gardens designed by professionals that make her think “What’s attractive/inviting/fun/interesting about this?” It’s now cooler to make your own chaotic, dirty, bug-ridden garden with a few chickens scratching around for ambiance than it is to have a well-ordered garden drawn up by a garden designer … I take issue with the notion that a garden that’s the product of working with a designer is somehow less authentic than what homeowners cobble together on their own. It’s the insinuation that gardens that aren’t chaotic, dirty, etc., are not real gardens that bothers me.
Calhoun also mentions Carleen Madigan Perkins’ earlier High Ground essay in which she also applauds unplanned gardens. He then goes on to admit that plenty of garden design is uninspired, but asserts much professional work is wonderful. And so on.
Well. There’s actually not much I disagree with here. A lot of professional garden design is bad. Just as much or more of it is very good. Anybody who has read my reverent paeons to the masterpieces of design I have seen in England and Italy knows that I appreciate great garden design as much as the next person. You need only scroll down a bit to see Michele’s admiration of the beautiful designs of the award-winning Michelle Derviss, and here’s a link to Susan’s love letter to her landscape architect.
I even paid a nursery-based design service to help me out with my unpromisingly-shaded and root-ridden front “yard.”
So what’s the problem? I guess it’s mainly our manifesto and the fact that we like to question and challenge. There is much we love about the world of gardening, both professional and amateur. There is also plenty of room for improvement. We think that a lively debate is exactly what every field of endeavor needs and must have in order to stay relevant. And we intend to continue to provoke that debate in our little corner of the gardening world.
P.S. I would love to write an op-ed for the back page of Horticulture. And if I do, can I have a halo, too?