GARDENS: PROBLEM OR DREAM

Martin Sturge, Member, on 11 November 1999

The speaker displayed a wide-ranging knowledge of linguistics and ancient societies to illustrate his theme. He made reference to gardening books and themes from many lands. Several members of the audience asked for a transcript of his text for subsequent reference so a slightly shortened version of his talk is given below.

Jean Brushfield

 

GARDENS: PROBLEM OR DREAM

Martin Sturge, Member, on 11 November 1999

A slightly shortened version of his talk.

A local book shop has about 700 titles in its gardening section. I possess many cubic feet of gardening books, tending to concentrate on water gardens. They tend to divide into the beautiful, such as Roddy Llewellin's Water Gardens, whose landscape illustrations are stunning, or the technical, such as James Allison, an excellent plantsman, and Anthony Archer-Wills, an accomplished designer, both well known to me. More generally, I tend to find gardening books to be rich in brilliant advice on design, planting, weed and pest treatment, soil improvement and practical tips of every kind. They speak with authority, often in an authoritative tone, yet don't seem to discuss the deeper aesthetics or philosophy of gardening.

Robin Lane-Fox is a classicist whose brilliant writing (common with classicists) flies along cheerfully, with wonderful tips sown thickly yet lightly on the wings of his infectious enthusiasm. Mirabel Osler, whose Secret Gardens of France is a must, is my favourite garden writer. She told me recently, that in spite of her careful plant references, she is not a plant person. She visits many gardens, and divides such persons as herself into `crouchers' and `gapers'. She is a gaper; so am I. One of the classic garden writers of course was Gertrude Jekyll. Her book Wall, Water and Woodland Gardens is full of practical help, and yet, as her preface says, "intended as a guide to amateurs being written by one of their number". How agreeable is such a low-key approach, by someone who was an amateur in the true sense, not of bungler, but of lover or enthusiast. Her diffidence reminds one of Goethe's Theory of Colour, whose introduction says it may help the unsure of step, `as might a walking stick'.

Gardening is surely a passion, perhaps an art.

I like the story of the journalist who asks the ballerina if she could describe the work she was about to perform. "If you think I could tell it in words, do you think I would exhaust myself dancing it?" Art speaks its own way, which we can allude to only with skill.

I thought we might consider some of the stages which gardening has gone through. There are gardening traditions throughout the world, yet to some peoples, gardening is unknown. As a generalisation, the indigenous peoples of central and I think southern Africa do not garden, nor do the American Indians, for whom the land must be honoured, be left as it is found. That still leaves countless multiplying millions caught up in this passionate yet in many ways unproductive fascination. Why?

In man's early times on earth, as a huntergatherer, he was clearly closer to Nature. The ways of the animals, the plants, the elements, were his daily concern, his bread and butter. As primeval superstition turned to worship, the plants were thought to have magic, sacred attributes, honoured possibly in forest shrines. The plants much later honoured in Egyptian tomb and temple paintings were those native to their soil, not those collected from elsewhere for their gardens. Then in nearby Mesopotamia, about 10,000 BC, began the practice of agriculture, possibly, it has been recently suggested, in response to a period of acute drought. Agriculture and husbandry, over a few thousand years, spread east and west, north and south. They provided the opportunity for settlement and urbanisation, which gave expression to man's gregarious nature. But did they give him richer sustenance?

For early farmers and herdsmen, the variety of plants and animals which they could domesticate was limited, and the conversion from hunter-gatherer took a long time, but farming produced food more easily, and in due course more food. The concerns of earlier societies to control population numbers and tribal territories could be relaxed. Plenty, however, was achieved at the expense of variety, quantity at a cost in dietary quality. In tribes whose remains can be examined over the 1000-year time span of this changeover, anthropologists have detected, not an improvement in the human frame, but its enfeeblement. Men lost 10 cm in stature, women 7 cm. This is generally attributed to dietary impoverishment.

I have wondered for some time whether man did not have some deep symbiotic attachment to his natural plant environment. Chemists tell me, perhaps; neuro-scientists tell me, not. It still occurs to me that man was a hunter-gatherer from the year dot, and has been a farmer for only 5 to 8 thousand years. Could man's passions for gardens be, to a degree, a manifestation of some frustrated symbiosis? Is it a signal, of wrong paths taken, a yearning to do otherwise? What then is a garden, what does the word mean? The closer you get, the harder it is to say. The Royal Horticultural Society is as close as most, and publishes a very fine Dictionary of Gardening, a luxury to save up for, brim full of scholarship on provenance, taxonomic particularities, lists of genera, species, hybrids and cultivars well exceeding the gardeners' needs, useful tips on horticulture, garden design and much besides: a reference work, no doubt, on a world scale. And yet, within its 880-odd pages in four large tomes, one little word is not listed: `garden'.

If we consult more linguistic dictionaries, we are likely to find what is understood by the word `garden', such as `an area of ground usually enclosed, often near a house, wherein may be found a lawn, trees, flowers, vegetables etc.'. Such definitions hold for us no surprises but take us no deeper in our enquiry. We look at etymology, and we find that `garden', like French `jardin', derives from Old French `gardin', itself thought to come from Old High German `Gart'. With `Gart' we have a clue.

What word, and with what meaning, did we first use to describe `God', or designate Garden? Philology, or comparative linguistics, comes to our help. One of its early pathfinders, since then much derided for his methodology, was Max Müller, who gave a series of lectures in Oxford in about 1860. Until then it had been assumed that Hebrew was the mother tongue, but Max Müller and others worked on language families. such as Semitic (including Hebrew and Arabic), and Indo-European, formerly called Arian (including Latin, Greek, Slavonic, Germanic, Sanskrit and Old or Avestan Persian). From this classification, the common root for God in Greek `Theos' and Latin `Deus' is found to have the meaning of the Sanskrit `Dyaus'- the `Shimmering Sky.' To those who might say `God' from German `Gott' doesn't sound like `Deus' one could observe that in European painting, God is usually shown sitting on a cloud. I'd love to know the etymology of `Gott', but I imagine the difference between `Gott' and `Deus' is more meteorological than doctrinal. We digress slightly from Gardens, but here, philology does help us with Latin and Old High German. The words for `Garden' in those two languages are `Hortus' and `Gart', the latter having also given us `Garth' in Scottish and Welsh, and similar in Scandinavian etc. `Hortus' has given us `Hort' in Catalan, `Huerta' in Castillian Spanish. `H' and `G' being frequently swapped between Indo-European languages, the roots Gart and Hort seem to be the same. Their sense is thought to be as in the Latin verb `Hortare', to encourage. My own definition of gardening has always been "to cherish Nature's munificence" _ not so very different.

What do we know of early gardens? Leaving aside sacred clearings in forests, two very ancient
traditions are known: Egypt and China. Chinese gardens are cosmic diagrams, to quote Maggie Keswick, whose 1978 book The Chinese Garden would take a fortnight to describe in any way proper to her profound scholarship. It is said, by a French writer, Benoist Méchin, that the first garden was designed by an emperor. It comprised a lake fed by a stream flowing from east to west (sunrise being pure, sunset draining the impurities), and a hill built by or in the lake, with large boulders along the bank. The hill is said to represent the emperor, the water the people, and the boulders to keep each in its place, By 800 BC, noblemen were building gardens in imitation of, or rivalry to, the Emperor's, and the tradition had reached its high point in the 18th century when a letter from a Jesuit priest in the Emperor's service, Père Attiret, was published in Paris, in 1749. It described the `Garden of Perfect Brightness'. It was here that the Emperor loved to relax. The ordered fields of farmers in the dusty plains around Peking, and the formality of the Courtyards and Halls of Audience, inside the huge walls, gradually giving way to a natural, or naturalistic, sequence of hills, trees and water, a landscape full of discovery and surprise, dedicated almost to the rejection of the symmetry and order which so contained courtly and official life.

To the administrative or Mandarin caste, all was order and regulation: vocabulary, grammar, calligraphy, forms of address, etiquette, ceremonial, hierarchy: the depth to which each should bow to each, the number of buttons on their tunic, according to rank, the number and length of branches to their fan, the colour of plumes in the hat (white for in favour, grey for on leave, black for disgrace), the shape of their visiting cards, the arrangement of their houses, even the diameter of their teacups. Added to such matters of etiquette was the constant worry over exams and coveted promotions. Such was the background to the pleasure these mandarins needed to find in their gardens. They were places in which to walk, to laugh, to recite, to perform, to entertain, perhaps seduce, to marvel, to breathe. A golden rule: talking shop was utterly forbidden.

China was and is a huge country, space was not a constraint, nor was scale a concern. Their gardening skill could as well attend a park the size of a province as a courtyard, or even a minute garden model measuring centimetres. China also was the theatre of two opposing and yet complementary philosophies: Confucianist orderliness, and Taoist harmony with nature. Father Attiret's letter became popular throughout Europe in the late 18th century, but it was in England that the most sympathetic response was to be found. Back in 1692 Sir William Temple had compared Chinese spontaneity with European symmetry in an essay about Epicurus, to whose garden we shall return a little later. The English espousal of free form, of borrowing nature rather than dominating it (or do we say `her'), was to revolutionise western gardening.

But we might first mention Japan. With the silk trade, Chinese garden ideas reached Japan. Here the idiom was almost reversed, with its need to fit into the mind-set of Zen-Buddhism and Shintoism, the countervailing spiritualities of that nation. Here entertainment became meditation, visual tricks at every turn gave way to a harmonious whole; fun, to silence; movement, to still contemplation. It was no longer the foot that travelled the mossy pathway, but the eye, for the whole perfect prospect was a pathway to take the mind to a place beyond. Relaxation yes, but of a different kind.

Their studied asymmetric design is born of a deep attachment to odd numbers. You would upset a Japanese person terribly if you made them a present of half a dozen coffee-cups for instance. Three is strong in Zen-Buddhism, and I once asked the Japanese sponsor of a Japanese garden at Chelsea, through his interpreter, what was his favourite garden number. A huge smile came into his stern features and he gave me a warm, asymmetric 3-word answer, in English, "I like seven." The Emperor, of course, might like the asymmetric number one, for unity! Pressed to explain, he just beamed even wider, "I like seven". Of the Japanese gardens I have visited in Europe and America, I would particularly recommend the gardens of Albert Kahn in Paris, an old part and a new part, stunning in spite of the visitors.

In Japan, 95% of the land is too steep to use, space is at a premium. These different needs probably explain their different mind-set, their need for quiet meditation. These stunning gardens have made their mark across the world, but have rarely married in, I find, with European ideas, as have perhaps rather better their Chinese ancestors.

Older by far than Chinese gardens was the gardening tradition in Egypt, known to us from Tomb and Temple wall paintings, and from numerous excavations. Egypt was a country unlike others. Its seasons numbered not 4 but 3, crucial of which, in a land of scant and unpredictable rainfall, was the season of inundation, the Nile Flood, when water was captured in huge dykes from which it was then distributed through a network of ditches or `jubes', (which had to be repaired or remade every year), and `shadufs' to raise the water to a higher level. The most desirable areas for a garden were in town suburbs (say, like Wimbledon), often quite near fields.

Egypt was a country apart. Even discounting recent theories of a far earlier civilisation (such as the Atlantis theory) and a 50-year period of Nubian dominance, Egypt survived as a self-contained civilisation for well over two thousand years, from about 3000 BC until Persian conquest in 525 BC.
Many studies have centred on the flamboyant 18th Dynasty, typically about 1860 BC, generously represented in Egyptian art and artefact. In Egypt, life and the after-life were a continuum, in art, the pictures of a man or a tree were not images, they were a man or a tree, which the gods, properly propitiated, would magically and invisibly make to live in the afterlife. Perspective and shade were unknown, view was descriptive, position and proportion were used to suggest calm and importance, colour and shape owed more to clarity and ideal than to seasonal accuracy. But if we can see through these visual obstacles, we can enter a world of great riches (a visit to the Metropolitan Museum in New York helps hugely).

Most decent Egyptian gardens were built around a rectangular pond (or sometimes T-shaped in temples). These ponds served for the growing of water lilies, and fish and fowl for the table, and unlike our garden ponds where sunlight is a prerequisite, theirs were afforded the shade of large vine trellises, to keep the garden and fish cool. The water fowl, mostly duck, were hunted with knobbed, curved hunting sticks something like boomerangs, which were called `gimel' and which, as a hieroglyph, eventually led to arabic and hebrew letters `G', also called Gimel, and the Greek gamma, whence the Roman `C', pronounced K, and later G. When the hunters returned, they usually brought back some water lilies, particularly the blue Nymphae coerulea, of which posies were offered to guests. The Egyptian shaved their heads, but wore wigs embellished with water lilies, flowers of which they called S-sh-n, from which we inherit the name Susan, and buds, which they called n-h-b-t, from which I doubt if you get much. (Perhaps we could have a competition!) The nymphaen petals were also steamed with rose petals to produce an essence, which they mixed into cones of perfumed wax to secure the wigs. As the cones melted down the neck and lovely regions, they were replaced by slave girls.

Around the ponds were mixed borders of cornflower, poppy, and mandrake, Mandragora, a member of the Solonaceae, or potato/tomato family, whose purple flowers led to shiny yellow/orange fruit, known in Arabic as `devil's testicles' _ I'd love to know why! A variety of trees provided more shade, and papyrus _ from which we get the word paper, provided repose for Hathor, the sun god, represented in paintings as a cow. Many plants were assigned divine significance, and it has been established, by archaeologists, that these were mostly those which grew wild in Egypt at the time _ tallying with the forest altar theory _ rather than some of the more exotic species imported by their pharaohs. One remembers Queen Hapshetsut, who particularly collected incense trees, seemingly both frankincense and myrrh in their various species.

Egyptian gardens were walled to protect their ceremonies from the common stare and were little oases of coolness from the pond and the shade, which the Greeks and Romans were later to rave at. As with the Chinese and the Japanese, the vast bulk of gardening work was done by myriad armies of slaves and gardeners of whom the chronicles tell little. Alex Wilkinson suggests in her book The Garden in Ancient Egypt that the pharaohs and their satraps kept their digging for the after-life. I wonder. Before Europe though, we must consider Mesopotamia and Persia.

The first garden anyone thinks of is the Garden of Eden which scholars have variously situated in Armenia, Southern Iraq and Afghanistan, rather as scholars have difficulty in placing the landing of Noah's Ark, and much antiquity besides.

What is true, is that gardens were an early fascination in Mesopotamia, particularly in the Assyrian civilisations of Akkad and Babylon. The Akkadian civilisation took over from the Sumerian, which may have been handicapped by the labyrinthine stranglehold of its scribes and indeed of its alphabet. They recorded with much glee, in stone and clay, its victories, its beliefs (always in the God around at victory time) and the wonder of its gardens. One such garden was at Nineveh, on the Tigris, and it was built by the Akkadian king, Sennacherib. The most famous gardens in this region were the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, built, so we are told, by Nebuchadnezzor, for his Medan wife, so she might be refreshed by air and breezes as in her native homeland. Although historic references and artists' reconstructions abound, it currently appears that Babylon (a few hundred miles south on the Euphrates, near Baghdad) was in ruins at the time. `Babylon' comes from `bab-ili', the gates of God (or the gods). Nineveh had 12 gates, of which 6 at least were named after gods. Inscriptions recently re-examined have emboldened Dr Stephanie Galley, of the Oriental Institute in Oxford, to place the Hanging Gardens in Nineveh, not Babylon. Sennacherib's grandson became King of Babylon, his father having killed Sennacherib. Here is Sennacherib's dedication (from which I have missed out gods and goddesses to abbreviate):

 

"For Tashmetum-Sharrat, the queen, my beloved wife, whose form the mother of gods had made more beautiful than that of all other women, I had a palace of love, joy and happiness built…. May we both live long together in health and happiness in these palace pavilions and have our fill of satisfaction there…."

 

Dr Galley had a rather modest artist's impression prepared, and has helped in a BBC programme planned for next year. She also plans a book and has offered us a lecture, so I leave Babylon to her.
Ethnically close to the Indian speakers of Sanskrit, were the Persians, speakers of Avestan. They worshipped fire, emblem of the sun, and the prophet Zoroaster named their god Ahura-Mazda and described the celestial firmament where He lived as a garden, not unlike the mythical Garden of Eden. The Achemenid dynasty, in power at the time, honoured the Ahura-Mazda with gardens modelled as closely as possible on Ahura-Mazda's abode, believing that the closer and the finer the gardens got in their resemblance, the closer man approached redemption and a return of his soul to Heaven. Gardens were the main duty of the king and of his governors. The Achemenid dynasty included the Dariuses, Xerxes, Artxerxes (in no particular order) whose military power was not to be trifled with, but their most famous gardener perhaps was Cyrus II. Xenophon reports a visit to Cyrus by the Greek general Lysander, who compliments Cyrus on his gardens. "We are proud indeed of our gardens" answers Cyrus. Lysander says teasingly "It was for the gardener that I intended the compliment" and Cyrus replies "It was the gardener who thanked you". Two thousand years later European noblemen would send their sons to learn the arts of weaponry and chivalry. Cyrus taught the young nobles of Persia to bear arms, and to plant trees.

Their gardens were walled: long straight avenues of trees, watered by canals and cross canals, fed by irrigation of much ingenuity in a country averaging 4.5 inches of rain per annum. The gardens were each modelled on a constellation; most were fairly strictly rectangular, but one, at Ecbatane, had seven concentric ramparts, corresponding to the seven planetary orbits around the sun. Poor old Galileo! At the far end of the garden was a tall, staged tower, a Ziggurat, a feature borrowed from Mesopotamia, whose name means `link between earth and heaven'. At its base, a sanctum called the `fire-place' or `atur-um', from which comes the Latin atrium. This is sometimes used otherwise, though in French, `atre' means hearth. Between tower and walls was the holiest part of the garden, the `parai-daeza' or `place within the wall'. The Greeks heard about these amazing gardens, the name for which they pronounced `paradeisos', whence Latin `paradiso' and Arabic `Ferdaws' (the word now used in Islamic Persia).

Cyrus also said to Lysander "When in sound health, I never sit down to dinner without first working at some task of war, or agriculture." He indeed had a problem of war with Egypt. In roughly 525 BC the Egyptian and Persian armies stood before each other, and set up their tents to rest before battle. Next morning, the Egyptians folded their tents away to prepare for the fight but under the Persian tents were concealed chariots with a beastly device of swords attached to their axles. Had there been lawns in Persia, he would surely have designed an impressive lawnmower! The Egyptian army was decimated but as Cyrus approached the towns, he discovered the wonder of their gardens and said their gardeners and engineers must be spared and employed in Persia. Thus Persian gardens became even more wondrous. In due course Persia and their conquered lands, including Egypt, fell to Greece and later to Rome.

One Greek I shall mention, though he was not representative of his people and was in fact rather an oddball. In the spring of 306 BC, Epicurus bought a house and garden in Athens. Epicurus gave rise to the adjective `epicurean' meaning, perhaps, delicious, even licentious excess. He lived at a time of scandals and orgies in the Parthenon. In fact, he believed in what the Greeks called `Ataraxia'… freedom from disturbance. This was just after a major lawsuit had upheld the right of free association, if not free speech. We don't know what his garden was like but it was the venue for a mixed community of devotees including women and slaves. He is believed to have indulged himself in the favours of more than a few of the lovely ladies that graced his garden, though he sternly advised that sex should be `used' (as he rather horribly put it) only when it did not endanger the digestion. His reputation for unbridled feasting was in fact far from the truth. He served stoically simple fare, and in fact suffered from ghastly intestinal disorders.

He wrote to a disciple "We say that pleasure is the beginning and end of happy living." His movement, which spread quite widely, required a withdrawal from political life, offered nothing to the ambitious or the public minded, and yet needed generous donations and subscriptions, and the income their investment produced, to keep going. It required the system to exist which it derided. But Epicurus' garden was a place where people could associate in friendship, unconstrained by rank or riches. It opened, or reopened society to an ancient need, even if only for a few.

The Arabs read Greek works assiduously. Essentially nomadic, inured to dust, heat and desert, the 14th century Moroccan historian, Ibn Khaldoun, described the Arab as a man who grows up in asceticism and dies of voluptuousness. "Even if he knows death awaits at the bottom of the garden (to Arabs the word `garden' can also have a carnal meaning) he rushes into voluptuous delight with the drunkenness of the night moth, mesmerised by the candle flame which will consume it.". When Mahomet, in the Koran, promised "Follow these commands, and when you reach Paradise, you will find a green garden watered by four rivers, where reclining upon silken cushions you will be waited upon by handsome young men and maidens with the eyes of gazelles, with whom you shall enjoy all the pleasure of love, being never sated, becoming never tired", he found a convincible audience.
When the Muslim legions conquered Nineveh and Babylon they were stupefied by the gardens they discovered. Though less fine than in the times of Cyrus, Darius and Xerxes, and though designed around a very different idea of heaven, they met their wildest dreams.

The Muslim gardens of Persia became an art-form, quintessentially sensual, but the new Muslim dynasties of Persia succumbed predictably, like moths to the flame, and finally the Omeyyad dynasty, having been chased out of Damascus, and not finding shelter in North Africa, settled in Granada where they built the Alhambra Palace and its wondrous gardens, the only Persian gardens to survive. Dynasties later the Muslims were pushed back by Ferdinand of Castille to Africa. Thus the enclosed meditational garden of the Persians, turned to pleasure by the Arabs, reverted to its meditational nature with the monks of Spain. The Hortus conclusus, or clausus, or claustrum became the Spanish `clauster', the French `cloître', the English `cloister'. Monastery gardens spread throughout Europe, some conserved to this day, others beautifully reconstructed. Their layout remained neat and symmetrical and certainly inspired the spacious displays to be seen at the Jardin du Luxembourg built for Marie de Médicis by Jean le Nôtre and the work of his son, André le Nôtre, for Louis XIV at Versailles (once he had fired his Finance Minister, Fouquet) _ and Marly le Roi. Versailles and Marly were built with utter disregard for cost, were very much the king's creatures. Kings don't often write books but Louis XIV wrote a sizeable book about Versailles, which I have been trying to procure for years. Kings come and go and the moulding demise of many of these gardens, their kiosks occupied by courtiers for the weekend, then rented out by the caretakers to meet costs, and finally abandoned, must have been as poignant to see as the loss of the gardens of antiquity. But then there were few people to watch. These were the gardens where man conquers Nature, impresses with the glory and richness and cost of his creation.

But there was a new order in garden design. Joseph Addison remarked in 1711 that the Rhône meanders happily through Switzerland, land of the free, but heads straight for the sea when it enters the land of the despots. "Louis XIV treats nature like a tyrant, we give her her freedom" went a refrain. Geometry was found to give an insufficient account of the new sciences. As we have seen earlier, English landscape was born. Its accommodation of, or illusion of, nature's foibles, brought a new powerful harmony into man's passion with the soil, enriched, in my opinion, by continued use and formality when appropriate. The English idiom spread fast to France where it was adopted joyously, and soon to Germany. In about 1776 Goethe bought his beloved `Gartenhaus' on the edges of the town of Weimar within the sound of church bells and yet opening to wild nature which he slightly tamed in the English fashion and enjoyed during the rest of his long life.

With such an inheritance to hand, with so many colours to our palette, so much technical and aesthetic advice readily available, what do our gardens mean to us, why do we like them, need them, what are they for?

Tempted by the omission in the RHS Dictionary, I asked the members of the International Water Lily Society to see if we could make up a suitable definition of garden. I gave no clues as to the kind of answer they might want to give. I also asked a few acquaintances. I received about 60 answers and have found it very difficult to synthesise them into a whole.

One snappily dressed manageress at a wine bar replied "a nuisance". Others varied from the active to the passive, acting upon Nature to being acted upon. At one end "an enclosed space where nurture triumphs over nature" (Dilly Bradley). "I care, you grow" (Corine Hope, my former secretary). "A place…. to create beauty, working with nature" (Anita Nelson in Texas). "Man's concept of idealised nature… nature tamed" (Walter Pagels of San Diego, IWLS librarian and inveterate plant hunter, a man I respect utterly.) At the other end "pleasure of the senses", "beauty", "relaxation", "renewal of the spirit", "the place to enjoy and pursue the miracle of life" (Joey Tomocik in Denver, Colorado, a teacher and one of life's irresistible entertainers), "a reflection of its owner", (Jürgen Peter, a water-lily breeder in Solingen). "My ideal, when entering a garden, is to be sapped of energy, to be taken over, to be stunned, refreshed, overwhelmed by the gardener's own voice… personal bravura" (this was our journalist /writer Mirabel Osler). "A place that brings pleasure and healing" (Clare Gosling, a former nurse, who sadly found more satisfaction working at RHS Wisley, there being no more forms to fill). "An ideal rest place for a guest" (Jasmine Zez from Austria). "An uncompetitive environment in which to enjoy the company of friends" (my brother Simon, echoing Epicurus, perhaps).

When man was a hunter-gatherer, he lived within a social fabric of kinship and acquaintance. He probably didn't like everyone, but he knew them. Throughout agricultural evolution and in the early days of industry, a man knew his supplier and his customer, those whom he depended on and vice versa. Today we are often isolated from our suppliers and our customers, sometimes from our bosses even. We travel long distances to work, move house frequently and have the television for conversation.

Do gardens cure our increasing anonymity, give us a sense of usefulness? Is their call of
welcome a warning? Do our gardens reflect our personalities, perhaps by telling us of our needs?

Martin Sturge