DETACHED SENTENCES ON GARDENING
Installing is the hard toil of garden making,
placing is its pleasure.
Superior gardens are composed of Glooms and Solitudes
and not of plants and trees.
A liberal’s compost heap is his castle.
Solitude in gardens is an aspect of scale.
Certain gardens are described as retreats
when they are really attacks.
Ecology is Nature-Philosophy secularised.
Gardening activity is of five kinds, namely,
sowing, planting, fixing, placing, maintaining.
In so far as gardening is an Art,
all these may be taken under the one head,
Better than truth to materials is truth to intelligence.
The inscription seems out of place in the modern garden.
It jars on our secularism by suggesting
the hierarchies of the word.
Brown made water and lawns (&c.)
Palladian elements, as much as Lord Burlington did,
his columns and porticos.
Brown made water appear as Water, and lawn as Lawn.
The gardens of Kent and Brown were mistakenly
referred to the Chinese aesthetic,
just as today’s thoughtful gardens
are considered to be Japanese.
'Japanese garden’ has come to signify no more
than ‘art garden’. The contemporary ‘sculpture park’ is not –
and is not considered to be – an art garden,
but an art gallery out-of-doors.
It is a parody of the classical garden native to the West.
The main division of gardens is into
art gardens and botanical gardens.
Compared to this division all the others –
‘The Garden as Music’, ‘The Garden as a Poem’ -
& etc. – are superficial.
A bench, in our modern gardens,
is a thing to be sat upon;
in Shenstone’s Leasowes it was a thing to be read.
As public sex was embarrassing to the Victorians,
public classicism is to us.
Composition is a forgotten Art.
Artificial gardens – as Lamb describes them –
now strike us as not at all artificial,
since they have been made ‘natural’ by time.
Ian Hamilton Finlay
Posted over on Poems & Poetics