Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Be Brutal and Imaginative

Several years ago I was fortunate enough to spend a week in London and tour some amazing site and events. Chelsea Flower and Garden Show was high on the list as was Vita Sackville-West's personal garden known to us as Sissinghurst! And what a day it was. Gorgeous sunshine and endless rows of boxwoods surrounded this old castle, which was her personal home and study. After roaming for several hours and journally my experience, I asked a gardener who was "knees stained" and sunburn if he had some advice that Vita might have freely given to a traveling gardener like myself. "Be brutal and imaginative," he mumble with that thrillingly exciting accent. Years later I came across a chapter in Vita Sackville-Wests' book, A Joy of Gardening, where she wrote those very words..... Here's a taste. "Gardening is largely a question of mixing one sort of plant with another sort of plant, and of seeing how they marry happily together; and if you see that they don't marry happily, then you must "HOICK" (such a fun word) one of them out and be quite ruthless about it." That is the only way to garden; and that is why I advise every gardener to walk around his own garden NOW....and make note of what he thinks he ought to remove and what he wants to plant later on. I have enjoyed the thoughts and ideas of these great gardeners who have gardened before us so in the words of Vita herself, "The true gardener must be brutal and imaginative." VSW

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