Sunday, August 20, 2006
On English Gardens and Bloggers
Have you noticed that the British garden bloggers seem to speak a different English language than the American garden bloggers?
Many of the gardeners in England (it is okay to say England vs. Great Britain, isn’t it?) garden in allotments, which turn out to be community gardens divided up into individual gardens. And based on what I’ve read, there are waiting lists to get into some of these gardens. I think what would be nice about gardening in a community garden is that the people you run into there would be gardeners, too, and so you could have a nice chat about gardening and plants. When you garden in your own yard, you may or may not have neighbors who also like to garden, so there isn’t always a lot of discussion about gardening over the fence, if you even see your neighbors.
I think the downside of gardening in an allotment garden is that you have to make it a point to go to the garden to do the gardening, which is somewhat like having to go to a gym to work out instead of having some exercise equipment at home. You really have to be motivated and want to do it, to make either work.
Regarding the differences in our common English language, I don’t think they have ‘yards’ in England. They have gardens and lawns. And not too many people really have lawns there. And the vegetable garden? I’ve seen it referred to as a potager, which is a term I think they borrowed from the French.
Daughter of the Soil, one of several British garden blogs I enjoy reading, recently had a post about burying a hedge hog in a tumulus. I’ll admit I had to look up “tumulus” to find out it is a mound of earth.
They also don’t call summer squash, “zucchini”, they call it “courgette” and an ear of corn is a cob. And they don’t have pruners, they have secateurs.
We compliment the English by referring to a whole style of garden as an English Garden, and that’s what many gardeners try to develop in their own yards, regardless of any differences in climate. When someone talks about an English Garden, I immediately think of roses and old hedges and all kinds of perennial flowers. I think of Shakespeare:
“I know a bank whereon the wild thyme blows,
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows
Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,
With sweet musk-roses, and with eglantine.
There sleeps Titania some time of the night,
Lull’d in these flowers with dances and delight.”
(A Midsummer Night’s Dream)
What does an American garden look like? I guess it depends on if you are gardening in Virginia, Florida, Washington, California, Arizona or Indiana. Even in California, they have about a hundred different climates, or claim to, so you would have a tough time identifying even a California Garden and conjuring up the same image in everyone’s minds.
I do like my American garden and can’t imagine gardening any place else. Or it is more I don’t know if I could learn to garden any place else, having gardened here all of my life?
But I’ll continue to admire the British for their gardens, the language they use when talking about their gardens, and their dedication to gardening. I’ll keep checking their blogs so that one day, should I ever take a “holiday” and go to Great Britain to visit gardens, I’ll not be so lost as to what they are talking about. (Normally I’d say vacation, but they take holidays in England which sounds so much more relaxing, doesn’t it?)
The picture above is the one and only rose in my garden. I haven’t allowed myself to have a lot of roses because I don’t want to deal with all the diseases and pests that readily attack them around here. Plus, I know as hard as I try, as much as I do, or how much I wish for it to happen, my roses would never be quite the same as the roses pictured in English Gardens. This particular rose is a “Flower Carpet” brand shrub rose. Doesn’t look too bad, really, for mid-August, does it?. Those leaves look so shiny and green and disease free. Maybe I should re-think this rose thing and get some more roses? I did get kind of interested in roses after watching the DVD “Secrets of the Rose Gardener”. Maybe if I had the right varieties? Maybe if every summer was like this one? Maybe?