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Sunday, 18 May 2008


While waiting for a table at Adam's Book Store's Coffee Shop I usually look for new landscaping books that will have something new or interesting in. Its not very often that I find a book that I can justify buying, but this last week I found a book that will definitely be on my list for Santa this year. I know you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, but I knew I would love it when I saw it.

Avant Gardeners by Tim Richardson is a look at 50 designers/practices from around the world, and a look at the underlying principles behind their innovative approaches to garden design.

One of the chapters especially caught my eye. In it he coins the phrase Psychotopia. This is the understanding of place not only in terms of location, but also in terms of meaning. How we interact with gardens, their history, their use, ecology etc. all affect how we experience them.

Very basically put, how we look at an empty beach is different to how we would experience a beach with footsteps in the sand. The landscape has been changed by the viewer, and takes on a different feel (and effect on us) as a result.

Gardening can be/should be/is so much more than just placing pretty flowers in garden beds. Amanda Patton says "gardens, ..... must move you on a deeper level than just being visually pleasing..."

A lot has been spoken about the ability of the more traditional arts, movies, architecture etc. to effect change in the people or society that experience them. Gardens have the ability to change people in ways we haven't even begun to realise. They can be explored, moved through, discovered. They create a constantly changing scenery, opening up new vistas or creating new intimacies in a far more real way than traditional art has ever been able to.

It really is time that gardening begins to be understood as an art-form rather than just a past-time.

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