What do you see in a landscape?

Procrastinating. I’m supposed to be researching a film script. Instead I have been letting my thoughts stray to gardening.

Now there’s a surprise.

Actually it was prompted by one of the walks I do here in London on my way to buy groceries. Little black trolley trailing behind me,  I tend to take a particular detour so I can walk past gardens that I like.

Pause while you gaze curiously as the shot I present. Or don’t present. I have left my iphone behind at the farm. So if I can track down an old digital camera with a slightly dodgy lens you can see what I mean.

I love the contrast between the phormium in the front and the topiary hedge beside.  It is pleasing. Not stunning. Nor imaginative.

And I wonder if I have fallen into the trap of admiring things because it looks passive and controlled. No intervention needed, nothing going wild.

I could be artistic and say that the little garden looks like a living sculpture. Nothing more.  It sits. It does. And I think that many of us admire things from an aesthetic view. But also as a gardener. Oh look – no weeding to worry about there. Or how clever to have chosen such low maintenance plants.

And then you look at the other gardens either side of this sensible little tableau and there are tricky design elements, weeds, mismatched ideas.

So I have come up with an idea about what we see in a landscape that is so tended by humans (you can tell it was a long walk to the shops).

The static landscape. Like the one above. Tamed. Controlled.

And believe me, I do love to walk past parts of my garden and just breathe a sigh of relief knowing that there is so little to worry about or do.

I put the box balls under the old wisteria in that category. (Well until last year when the box caterpillar moth came and attacked. And the wisteria died… maybe this wasn’t a good example.) It was great a few years back when it was marvellously static and tamed.

I know. The shade garden. I chose the plants, planted densely and stood back to admire. They just get on.

I don’t fret and I don’t do a lot to intervene. I add more bulbs each year, and mulch. But I rarely even prune.

It is about as static as a large part of my garden can be.

Then there is the landscape of promise. A garden of seasons.  You look out in winter and wonder ‘have the wild boar churned up the soil so badly this winter that my camassias won’t return?’

Or gaze out on a flat dormant scene of mulch and know that under there is adventure. A brand new garden that may emerge after all that autumn and winter work.

And finally (I was reaching my destination so this musing was about to come to an abrupt end) the landscape of productivity.

The blank canvas in Spring that leads to the explosion of growth under your very intensive intervention.

And when you look on your productive landscape it is hard to think that what you would really prefer is a static space that just pleases the eye and rarely changes.

So that will be a landscape of productive promise for me then.

What a shame I’m stuck in another country for four more days. I’m impatient to be getting on.

All sorts of things may have happened in my absence.  Most of those of the animal invasion variety. So news soon.