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Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Garden Coaching & The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics

In very basic terms, the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics (or the Law of Entropy) says: "That everything tends towards a state of decay." That's probably a little too simply put, and its also probably a bit of a stretch to try to apply a law of physics to gardening, but here goes...

Looking at gardens over the last few years, I can see a definite pattern forming, of:
  • initial energy and enthusiasm in the planting of a new garden,
  • a tapering off of the enthusiasm,
  • the garden starts to become neglected,
  • its then left to people with very little knowledge of gardening or the care of gardens,
  • the garden begins to decay
Its definitely a symptom, (of something I can't quite put my finger on) of the way we live our lives today - that we have a lot of energy for new ideas and projects, but lack the long term commitment needed to keep nurturing them.

When I look around at the gardens all around me, the majority just seem to be in a slow state of decay. This might be a bit of a glass-half-empty mindset, but the frustrating thing is that I can see these gardens as they are, but in my minds eye, I can see what they could be with a little bit of knowledge and focussed energy.

Another aspect of the Law of Entropy is that without any outside energy acting on a system, it will tend towards chaos.

But maybe a change is on the gardening horizon. Garden Coaching is a new idea that seems to be catching on as a way of learning about gardening from gardeners that have the experience and passion, and want to share some of their enthusiasm. Hopefully this will create the kind of 'outside energy' that we need to bring gardens out of the chaos that they're tending towards.

What is a Garden Coach?

Garden Coaches are experienced, passionate gardeners who give consultations to first-time gardeners, and to those with a little more experience that might just want a second opinion.
They’ll give practical advice, help you identify your plants, give you design ideas or show you how to look after your garden properly.

I am hoping that Garden Coaching goes right past being the latest trend, and really catches on as a positive influence on the average garden, and practical help for the novice gardener.

For more information on Garden Coaching check out The Garden Coaching Blog.


Anonymous said...

I'm guilty of starting things and not finishing them. I wonder if it's always been like this or if it's something newer?
That said it is good to find a garden that been cared for for years, isn't it? I was at Rosehurst (Boom street, Pietermaritzburg) yesterday and found the established topiary and hedges so refreshing.

Anonymous said...

Its definitely a symptom, (of something I can't quite put my finger on) of the way we live our lives today - that we have a lot of energy for new ideas and projects, but lack the long term commitment needed to keep nurturing them.

It's a symptom of abject consumerism. Newer! Better! More! That mindset encourages us to constantly throw out the old to make room for a new iPhone a year after the first iPhone was released. To buy a new handbag/purse each season. To get a new car every two years. Etc, etc, etc. There is no commitment, no expectation that it will last. So why should hobbies like gardening last either?

stoneware70 said...

Its probably always been around, but I'm sure its made worse by the fact that we have so many choices available to us nowadays?

I've never been to Rosehurst, will have to see if I can visit next time I'm in PMB?

stoneware70 said...

I wonder though, why we feel the need to fill our lives with the Newer! Better! More!? What drives the need to discard the old and focus our attentions on the new?
How can we make gardening a passion that supersedes the average person's fickle attention?
I seem to have more questions than answers...

Anonymous said...

Ross -- I think the business world encourages it, and the West's relative wealth has allowed it. Advertising takes advantage of human nature and makes us feel as if we don't buy this thing right now, it will be gone and our life will be ruined. A few generations ago, people saved and reused aluminum foil. Now we turn up our noses at that sort of thriftiness.

Garden Wise Guy said...

I think that whether consumerism existed or not, we're wired to generate excitement of the prospect of something new, hoping that this time it will be different. It's the internal dialog we recite to ourselves; really a form of optimism. It works in new jobs, new relationships, discovering new foods.

As for maintaining what we've planted, it's harder to stay enthusiastic when it's only about keeping things from getting bad, rather than the adventure of something new. I call it the "ribbon cutting" mentality, where we thing about how it looks when we're done but don't plan for the long run. It's an aspect of sustainability.

stoneware70 said...

Fern - I guess that's all the more reason for Garden Coaches/Gardeners to step in to guide and encourage?

Thats true Billy - I often try to remind my clients towards the end of a project of that old adage "A garden is never finished..."

I like that description "Ribbon Cutting Mentality". Is it copyrighted?

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