Is there such a thing as grown up gardening? Gardening that takes responsibility for the impact it has on the landscape and wider global community? Many of us are fortunate in this world to become adults but how many of us grow up?
The concept of the grown up is a difficult one for many, the concept is somehow gauged by age alone and not by impact. Grown ups take on a responsibility for their impact on their environment, this is not just down to the question of whether to have kids or not, whether to drive or not, whether to eat meat or not. It is a more deep rooted question that can damage or bolster the core of many human beings, it is a strength of belief, belief in your skills, your intellect and that most intangible of things, your soul. Regardless of faith or belief, every human defines themselves beyond the brain, we feel, we cry, we get angry, we believe that things will get better, we believe in each other and hope for a wider community of support. We look for love and love is something that we cannot quantify, define or even replicate from relationship to relationship. It could be declared that to feel is to be human but we know as a system, that every plant, every animal feels and can experience pain, joy and to some extent what we think is love. We do have a tendency to project our humanity on to animals and inanimate objects. We call this creativity. We call it arsing around. We call it anthropomorphism. We do it to our kids too as we try to define them in the early years. We used to make stories up about Little D as he went through a myriad of facial expressions that we didn't understand, we even made stories up about him in his high chair as if he was some intrepid explorer. He was. We are. Life is an intrepid adventure and it is an adventure we rarely grow up or in to. It is the final frontier, to take responsibility not just for our life but our actions, our impact and how we interact with the wider world. It's quite depressing to many. Gardening can suffer from this childlike approach to the world as if imports will always flow, that concrete, paving, hard standing design is the logical thing. Consider paths, why do our city paths have to be paved? Who came up with that over expensive, often dangerous, hard impact pathway? Concrete is not a wonder drug, more of it has been broken up, recycled or worse still, buried. Gardening should hold up its hand and acknowledge that the idea of design, design involving imports, involving paths that are fashionable at the moment have nothing to do with the act of growing.
Design is an anathema in growing, design should be about models of growing and not just about taking someone on a journey through a space. Neither should we refer to the outside as a 'room'. Most people taken on a journey through an over designed space soon resort to being a drugged rat in a maze of dead ends, they cease to see the landscape and look for the exit, the cake shop, the coffee machine or the pub. People don't do journeys very well because we are not grown ups. We are petulant children who are asking, 'Are we there yet?' Now consider this, when was the last time you really listened and didn't think what you where doing next or about a shopping list? You too are fixated on the journey and forget that you are in a place. We have a tendency to be anywhere else but here. Being grown up means being here and here is a difficult place to be, to consider how we impact on just being here. Now that path, that took so much from the earth just so you could go on a journey seems rather silly, especially when you'll rip it out a few years from now.
Yes, you could reach for recycled materials, and that may be a better step but shouldn't we reach for models with as little impact as we can? Shouldn't we accept that cities, urban conurbations, suburbia, street lights, cars, oil, television, fashion and design are rather a silly, childish concept? Shouldn't we forget the journey that makes us walkaway from ourselves?