“What, if anything, do the infinity of different traditional and individual ideas of a garden have in common? They vary so much in purpose, in size, in style and content that not even flowers, or even plants at all, can be said to be essential. In the last analysis there is only one common factor between all gardens, and that is the control of nature by man. Control, that is, for aesthetic reasons.” Hugh Johnson
Hugh Johnson created a notable garden at his home in Essex, England, then wrote a notable book, The Principles of Gardening: a guide to the art, history, science and practice of gardening. this is an encyclopedic book that is great fun to dip into.
I liked this quote which I found in a newer book on my shelf, Why We Garden by Jim Nollman. I was particularly taken by it because I remember so well my confusion when we went to China and found the concept of garden so different. Shan shui translated literally means mountain water but it is the way the Chinese refer to gardens. We went to one famous garden in Suzhou, the garden city of China, and it contained nothing but stone. But by that time I had adjusted somewhat to the many differences between the Chinese garden and the “English” garden that I was familiar with.
Despite the differences in cultures I think Hugh Johnson got it right when he said, on the very first page of his book, “The first purpose of a book is to give happiness and repose of mind.”
Visit Carolyn gail at Sweet Home and Garden Chicago to see how the muses inspire in other gardens.