Sometimes You Can't See the Garden for the Boundaries

Gardens are funny things. We spend so much time in them that we often fail to see them as a whole. The term 'room' has been bandied around by garden designers since the plethora of nineties garden design programmes that leant towards the 'Changing Rooms' end of the spectrum. The type of television shows that took hapless couples with no desire to garden and changed that garden into a safe part of their house, a 'room' that housed a disco, a water feature, an eight foot wall that glowed in the dark with pieces of metal that tumbled down the hill. Yes, James Alexander-Sinclair killed those television redesign programmes dead - thank you, James, you did the world of horticulture a favour and showed that people who own land and don't want to garden shouldn't be allowed land. I'm not going on about those people who want to try to garden, I am discussing those people who buy a house and want a garden but never, ever use it. It is a waste of space and nature, they are inevitably concreted over and become parking spaces or patios for dining on. Dirt to these people is a frightening thing. Plants scare them shitless. Nature makes them run shrieking to their cars. The countryside is somewhere they go to and then promptly moan that it smells. These gardening shows gave these people aspirations to tame the outside with decking and thus it became more about the 'room', the boundaries and the objects in the 'room' than it did about plants, horticulture or the attempt to be gardeners. Gardens should work from the outside as well as the inside. The garden 'room' became an extension of the rooms in our house. I mean, let's face it if we could take down the walls in our house, and look in (seconds before the roof collapsed on us) we wouldn't see anything that would make us think, this is a 'room'. 

Why you should never refer to your garden as a room.


'Room' is an awful term that should never have come into gardening along with people with aspirations, gazebos and piers that went nowhere (I mean that last one must have been a joke. As in, take a long walk off a short pier). Rooms are not rooms. They are only rooms when no one occupies them. Likewise, gardens are not rooms, life is always in it. So, sometimes it's a good idea to look into your garden from another viewpoint and realise that each part of the garden tells a story about you, links to other parts of the garden and is more about the life that occupies that space than the terrible concept of the 'room'. If you look in an all you see are glowing walls, water features, disco floors, a seating and dining area, then it's time to start thinking plants.

Does this look like a room? Quit calling gardens an outside room.