What Kind of Garden?

You’ve probably all seen the magazine-type articles which promise to tell you what clothing style is right for you. You may have taken the quizzes, or even tried to follow their advice. But the problem, I find, is that they have a limited number of stereotyped options: French chic, bohemian, avant-garde, glamorous… For some reason “time-travelling Anabaptist” never makes the list.

As it is with clothing style, so also with garden style – including, alas, an increasingly rapid change in fashions. Suggested styles may include cottage, Mediterranean, formal, Japanese, coastal, prairie or post-modern (plants optional). But again, what if you and your dream garden don’t fit neatly into one of those boxes?

What if your garden style is, er… whatever this is?

When I started thinking about what kind of garden I wanted, I knew almost immediately what it was, and what to call it (unlike my ideal wardrobe, which was easy to imagine but hard to encapsulate in words).

What I want for the outdoor part of my home is a Peace & Plenty garden.

Simply put, a Peace & Plenty garden is one that is productive of good things, while also being a peaceful haven in which to be.

Of course, there is room for plenty of variation within this theme. My ideal garden will produce plenty of food, as well as beauty for the eye and scents to delight the nose. It’ll be colourful (though not frenetically so), while avoiding the two extremes of regimentation and chaos. It will have places in which to sit and reflect, but an absence of bare earth or monocultures.

Jardin en permaculture

It will be a place abounding in life. Plant life – trees decorative and comestible, shrubs likewise, flowering plants, vegetables perennial and annual and herbs and all. Bird life – tui, piwakawaka, snail-eating thrushes, perhaps chickens, and maybe even one day kereru. Small life – earthworms, bees, butterflies, ladybugs and benefical insects of all sorts. And also human life – a place where we can gather good food and good company, a place to think and listen and share with those we love.

That’s my idea of the Peace & Plenty style garden I want to work toward.

What’s your garden style? Extravagant topiary? Gnome gladiator arena? Carnivorous window-box? I’d love to hear about it!

2 Replies to “What Kind of Garden?”

  1. Well, I think I’m in agreement with your vision of a garden. And to some extent we have achieved it. Certainly, in lockdown it’s been a wonderful gift, to have plenty of things to harvest and offer to our stay-at-home neighbours, and plently of weeds to give me an excuse to get out of the house, armed with a bucket and weed-fork.

    Peace, when you want quiet, is not always to easy to achieve outside of lockdown, however, when surrounded by other houses and building happening not far off. Here’s hoping that this time of peace will have sparked a desire in people to aim for it long-term, rather than hooning around in cars, provoking sirens to chase them. I heard from a neighbour that the young people in the Punjab woke one morning recently to look up and see the Himalayas for the first time ever in their own backyard! May they too yearn and work to keep that view.

    1. Peace and quiet – much to be desired!
      I was reading a book the other day which was written in the 60s, I think, in which some people were horrified at the “obscene” population density of 10 houses to an acre. That’s about as much room as we have. I shudder to think how they’d react to new-build houses, packed together without hardly a scrap of soil to stand on between them.

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