Gardening vs Landscaping: a thought ramble

One of the things that I like about gardening is that you don’t have to get it right. Gardening is not the same as landscaping. It isn’t about creating the perfectly groomed look. Gardening is about creating something beautiful. Or useful. Or both. All gardeners have a style. Some of us plant for food. Some plant for color and for flowers to adorn a table. I plant for butterflies, birds and fragrance. Sure, I have a layout, of sorts, and a plan, of sorts but it’s flexible. This is a good thing for me because I like structure and I am not noted, in my day to day life, for my flexibility.

Landscaping, on the other hand is, in my opinion, about fashion and appearances. It is about being perfectly groomed. Now don’t get me wrong, grooming has its place but in this modern world I think that it is rather over done. We need a little simplicity and wildness. Gardening, to me, allows for that wildness.

Why do I think this matters? I teach. I have observed in my classroom, that my students are unwilling to do anything they don’t know the answer to. They are unwilling to risk getting it wrong. I think this is a symptom of the modern age. I also think it is a serious handicap. I think it is going to hold them back. I think it is keeping them from doing as well as they could do. They are not risk takers.

How does this fit in with gardening. Gardening is a little risky. It is a little messy. You have a rough idea of what goes where and what you want and you plant it and sometimes it goes according to plan and sometimes it doesn’t. If it doesn’t you rip it out, move it and start over. Landscaping is like modern education. You have a detailed plan and you follow it. You don’t deviate to the right or the left. There is little room for mess and chaos.

I’d like to teach my kids to be more like gardeners of the mind than like landscapers. To plant ideas and knowledge and to see what grows from it. It would be interesting. Of course those kinds of classes are noisy and disordered. In my class I am trying to landscape the learning, keep it ordered and contained. I have to say it isn’t working.

Maybe I need to be more of a gardener with them.

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