AppreciationA great garden respects diversity

A great garden respects diversity

Reading time: 2:15min | Even in Winter gardens are an inspiring source.

For me, gardening was never a thing. Innately, a garden is home-bound and thus in contradiction to my inner self. However, I did appreciate non-domestic gardens, aka the wild, a lot. I found myself more than often standing in awe underneath trees while contemplating the sheer power of life.

Nature protection was never a thing I was engaged in, but I’ve understood nature as being vital for society as arts are. Although I was a liberal city dweller, I could distinguish between a beech, an oak or a linden tree. Even the world of bushes and other little plants wasn’t alien to me, at least not much less than the guessing of famous artists in museums (isn’t that an Uecker over there, with all the nails?).

The valuing of nature has always been part of the backdrop of my upbringing. Then my mother died, and I inherited her little town garden.

Her garden became my The Little Prince planet, which gave me invaluable insights into nature’s nature. When starting reluctantly caring for the orphaned plants, I slowly realised that plants need care; otherwise, the more vigorous plants will rule with authoritarianism. Inevitably, the garden will transform into the wilderness.

In the beginning, I told myself that wilderness is a good thing, that ideologically and biologically this is what nature is all about. And to break that down to the ultimate conclusion, mankind has to vanish. But then I realised that mankind won’t go anywhere but stay. I understood mankind is behaving like ground elder and will be taking over any niche it can slip in.

Because we’re supposed to be more intelligent than ground elder, I figured that we should garden ourselves. This needs some friendly pruning of the strong and nurturing of the weaker. I also figured that a garden is not about order and tidiness. A great garden is about diversity and respect. When I look at gardens around me, I see differences in culture, e.g. a Japanese stone garden vs a traditional English garden. But the truly great examples (not by size) shine by their sheer diversity and the respect the gardeners pay even to the tiniest moss. It’s not minuscule. It’s a vital part of the greater good.

Helleborus niger blossoming in January. Photography: Hans von Sonntag

In Autumn, some little and less little guys retracted completely (e.g. the bleeding hearts), most of the plants lost their leaves. Now in winter, the garden is showing its naked, vulnerable side. My garden’s immense colour diversity is reduced to a few dirty greens. Darker shades of brown now rule the picture. But some of my green friends spark hope with their buds. Even some flowers are pointing to a future full of wonders when life shows its power again. Watching gardens closely at winter inspires the coming future on so many levels.

Today I’m more than ever standing in awe beneath a tree. I’ve extended this awe-ness to every other plant I see. And I started to engage myself in nature protection. A toast to my mother, she knew it all.