Coming Around AgainBy Benjamin Hill (BennysPlace)
January 24, 2011
The need to grow is hard-coded into our genes and I do not anticipate it will go away any time soon. In fact I only predict this need will grow stronger in the years and decades and even centuries to come. Anyone can grow anything. I truly believe that. Whether it is the philodendron that offers a small piece of nature in a personal living space or the 10-acre vegetable garden, we are yielding to the connection to nature and to life beyond our own. Even for those who have a somewhat negative viewpoint to gardening, the opportunity to touch the earth, feel it between our fingers and then transform it into something living would seldom go unappreciated.
I have traveled throughout many parts of the world and everywhere I have traveled, I have seen many examples of people dedicating what they have into an area for green whether it is for food or for decoration. In North Carolina, outside of Asheville I saw front yards filled with corn and leafy vegetables. I see this as a glorious alternative to the manicured lawn. In Manhattan, I was able to walk along rooftop kitchen gardens and farther out, I smiled from the inside when I saw windowboxes attached to the brick of small apartments. As I have mentioned before, everyone seems to garden in England as if it were compulsory. My neighbor did not have earth so she had a complete kitchen garden, ferns and various flowers growing in pots. Inside she grew herbs in the kitchen windowsill. The French country gardens are a site to behold. I remember feeling so at peace when walking through the vast fields of lavender. If we truly do get our own version of heaven, a field of lavender would definitely be a part of my personal heaven.
Despite all this, I do see a trend that could very well counter these natural instincts. We as a society are becoming obsessed with things that do not matter and it is truly counterintuitive. I am forever thankful that websites like this exist and even more thankful to the teachers that still recognize it is important to teach our children what it means to grow something. How many of you can remember starting seedlings in Dixie cups? How about corn inside a wet paper towel? The latter was to illustrate the process of how a seed becomes a plant by watching the roots form and then of course the emerging leaves.
I personally have come full circle as a gardener. Like most urban dwellers, I began by yielding to my own genetic desire to grow something by creating a potted garden on a balcony. I remember this garden well. I had miniature conifers on each side of the balcony in large pots with some sort of trailing plants. The other pots were made up of herbs, strawberries and ornamental flowers. Imagine my delight after moving from this apartment to a home in England where I had an expanse of dirt I could transform into anything I desired. I knew - as many of us know and everyone would if they gave it the chance - that my life is only complete if I am able to grow plants and flowers. The earth provides much needed food for the body and soul if only we take a few moments to tend to and nurture it.
I once again have a balcony garden and with one large pot with an evergreen (a variety of Euonymus) under planted with some Vinca and a mum, two potted English lavenders on each side, lily, ivy and large pot of violas. Everything of course is asleep now but below are photos of the plants at their peak. Where we live now is a temporary stop on our way to a new house with of course a bit of earth to dig into.
I thank you kindly for reading and no matter where your journey takes you, I pray it is a blessed one and that no matter what your garden consists of, it brings you joy.
| Hybrid Lily||Mums||Vinca and Euonymus|
About the thumbnail -- I was doing a search for full circle and then garden circle and found this painting. Below are the artist's words and his sentiments on art relate directly to how I feel about gardening and the connection to all the beauty of nature. The other images were taken by me.
From Wikimedia Commons -- http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Immoveable_1_%28Open_Eyed%29.jpg --
English: Art can have a modest but powerful affect. Like tectonic plates slowly shift the ground we walk on, continued exposure and interaction with the arts, when they're good, can move and change our perceptual space. The painting becomes a mirroring device that reflects our inner sight of the world we live in. In history painting we are asked to look through a window or to strictly take the object as something to be understood strictly on its own material merits. That's no longer as interesting as embracing a greater thought of interconnectedness of all thought and material. I often think of Carl Sagan's commentary about the universe being a great teeming storm of light and matter and only invisible currents of electromagnetic energy barely holds our perceptual world together: the glass appears to sit on the table, our feet touch the stone floor, we don't fall through the center of the earth....I think the creative imagination also holds our perceptual world together like a great net we throw over our meaningful lives trying to encompass as much as we can...or as little, I suppose.
I think about that in my own investigations with my work. I stretch to see the world not only experienced by my fleshly self but also encompassing the textures of time, history, emotion, dreams, and the creative imagination. Art making, like living, , for me, is an alchemical practice. I see the self like an oozing thing, a vaporous, affective thing, that pushes and presses into the perceptive selves of others. Making paintings is an invitation to create some silent alchemy, some changing. Small or big, if the viewer is willing to engage, to cross the threshold I provide, something's going to happen.
A lot of people ask about the narrative elements of my work , but I don't see the work in relations of beginnings and endings so much. They're more like poems than novels or short stories. They're not stories as much as in-between moments captured without the artifice of self imposed boundaries like body, function, usefulness. I try to portray the self in various states of Liberty, capturing the texture of acknowledgement of the fulsomeness of Being. It is the conflict, the dance, between the corporeal self, the knowledge that we are going to die, of the sensual, the limitation of the flesh and gravity, and the imaginative soul, the thing that makes us reach to the stars with our minds, that wonders and dreams, the sense of our connection to the Universe as a swirl of star stuff, that I'm interested in engaging with. The question about whether the mind is a garden or a cage or both is what I think about from painting to painting. ..Textures of meaning and mindful expansion of the perceptual self.
For more inquiry see : LowellBoyers.com