In the Weeds

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This has never been a how-to garden blog, but maybe in this case, I’ll make a grand sweeping exception. If there is one thing I can teach all of you to do, it’s how to be in the weeds in your garden. With the grace of my rough and rebellious American hand we’ll brush off the argument that my garden is a mess, and I’ll show you how to do so from the zero gravity chair I pretty much live in for the majority of the gardening year. So yes, today, I am playing as the armchair garden philosopher.
Our passion vine (Passiflora caerula ‘Blue Crown’) is a bit wild. I blame all of those young adult mystery books I read as a child. I think this might be called Scooby Doo Chic.

If there’s one thing I’ve always been good at it’s been taking on far too much. As a kid, I’d often have to give up an activity or two, but up until the last decade, I’d usually toss everything up into the air and over time, it would all work out.

When I was in college this nasty little habit of mine helped me to get my work done. Integrating unrelated information worked for me, but in the art history department I pushed beyond its unstaid envelope everyday and not all of the other students enjoyed or understood my work, and a few of the professors tended to think of my presentations more as mental acrobatics than as real academic work. And to this day, I will never understand why not a single art history professor ever assigned a philosophy book. Since the entire field has its origin in aesthetics, this was always very sad to me, but the same thing goes for garden design. Yup, it too is based on aesthetic theory and philosophy too. (Don’t groan. I can hear you and the chorus of other groaners out there.)

I am in the weeds.
And here we go, I’m at it again. I’m about to wrap this egg roll right up though so hold on tight.
I realize now that stasis (in a Greek philosophical sense) has always been important to me, but I didn’t know what to call it until I was introduced to Giovanni Bellini’s St Francis in Ecstasy and the study of ontology in high school. I could write a tome about this painting, but I will attempt to resist in this post, and save that for later.
I was able to go on a little pilgrimage to The Frick Collection to see this painting with an art history classmate while she was still living in New Jersey. She’d moved to the NYC area to pursue her graduate studies and I am so proud of how far she’s gone in her career. (I am also happy she’s now a gardener.)

I find that I now tire of the same thing in garden design that I used to find dull and problematic when I studied art history and that it’s not just illness and broken fingers which has led me to being in the weeds. Instead, what’s been holding me back is my inner battle with mimesis.

Internally, yes, I struggle, and with this post, as well as a few others, I’ve exposed myself as a bit of a navel gazer who prefers to build her castles in the sky rather than on dry land, but that’s because of my struggle with beauty, representation, design, art and reason.

Like that overwhelmed server in a busy restaurant, I am so far behind in my garden that our green customers have overwhelmed me and are attacking. Well, so what if I’m in the weeds in my garden? Maybe I want to be the oldest kind of garden designer of all, not a farmer, but the kind of person who let’s nature grow up against her. It just so happens I’m in a city though, but I’m not afraid of the chaos of nature and you shouldn’t be either. We’ve been mimicking her since to dawn of man and I’d rather mimic her than the newest garden design fads.

So that’s enough for now. We’ll flog this not yet dead horse again soon.

4 thoughts on “In the Weeds

  1. Aieeeee, you make my head ache…. Thank you for linking to the definition of mimesis, this old lady appreciates it. It's been a long time since I was in college, but I remember the enthusiasm. I'm off to look up ontology.

    I like that picture of St. Francis. He's such a popular statue in gardens (*grin*).

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  2. Yay for the pictures you posted. Your garden is beautiful…nature taking over has made it so. What I wouldn't give for a Passion vine like that! (my husband would never let a vine take over that much of our house…saying it was damaging). Now I need to go back and follow all those links you stuck in there…

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  3. Alison,
    I am cursed with this enthusiasm. A distant cousin said it made me a funny kid. If I had never become such a lover of philosophy chronic illness would have been impossible to get over.

    I like St Francis in gardens too but I must admit that our garden has a small statue of the patron saint of gardening instead. His name is Saint Fiacre and he's a funny nut to say the least!

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  4. DG,
    That's pretty funny about the house damage. The passion vine really just twirls around things. The bad stuff is that ivy on the old garage/studio. We left it and had planned to rip it out but it is now out of hand. That stuff will be horrible to remove now. We'll have to repaint too. Grrrrr.

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