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Thursday, May 7, 2009

Garden tours and the blossoming of thoughts on things green

As the garden tourists strolled my aunt and uncle's grounds last weekend, I began to see the light - well, I'd spent a week reflecting upon dark tourism after all - but I began to see the light reflecting through the trees and shrubs in the garden here in new and different ways. I tried to see them not as a writer or photographer, but simply as someone who appreciates gardens. I started to give some thought to why specific trees might have been planted and why they were located in certain places. I tried to recall how a particular flowering shrub looked when we first arrived a few months ago, how it looked when we were here last year, and how it appeared now. Was it even flowering? Why of course not, because different things flowered at different times of year. So I began to appreciate the arrangement of the garden, and how, while it looked wild and natural, it really was rather cleverly thought-out, the way it directed people here and there, provided places for them to explore, spots for them to sit and reflect. I began to see the flowers themselves. Normally my eyes are mainly drawn to bold colour and unusual textures, but now I began to become intrigued by everything and notice things I hadn't really paid attention to before. I saw perfect flowers which had just freshly opened and were revealing themselves to us in all their youthful beauty for the first time. I spotted sturdy buds about to blossom, and began to wonder when they might make their appearance. I even got a little excited at the prospect. But then I began to think: now the horticultural tourist probably knows exactly what a certain flower will look like when it opens. But surely that would take away the element of surprise? And then it occurred to me: like a film theorist who understands narrative structure and can determine how a movie will end but still enjoys seeing the story unfold, part of the joy of creating a garden and watching everything grow must surely be about seeing how everything comes together and having your satisfactions met? Like travellers who research and plan trips, organizing itineraries, and booking hotels, activities and tours, gardeners must also delight in developing expectations of their garden with the hope of having them met. So then I began to think about the horticultural tourist, and I wondered what their goals were when they set out to visit gardens. What did they hope to gain from moseying around gardens like that of my aunt and uncle's? Was it purely for the aesthetic pleasure or was there something more? What did they think about? And what were their aims when they planned a trip away to see gardens?

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