Part of our back garden on Monday morning - click to enlarge if needed
Anna (Flowergardengirl) wrote an amusing and excellent post a few days ago about the name she's given to her garden. This was inspired by an article by Helen Yoest over at Gardening with Confidence who's challenged us all to come up with a name and/or mission statement for our own gardens.
At first I dismissed the idea and told her so. I've spent many a long meeting at work where we've discussed mission statements ad nauseum. They're meant to encapsulate an organisation's ethos in a succinct and memorable way, so it's a serious business and needs to be just right. In my experience World War III has practically broken out over whether and where the word and belongs in the sentence. It can get really picky and heated. As a result I feel they belong firmly in my former life and not my present one, certainly not in something as personal and non-corporate as my garden. However, I found I couldn't stop thinking about my response to the Why do I Garden? challenge last month alongside Helen's ideas, so I went and had another peep at her article.
To summarise, Helen argues that having spent so long developing and nurturing our gardens, it's a natural step to name and devise a mission statement to encapsulate that journey. It's meant to be liberating and by writing one, there's an instant shorthand available when describing the garden to others. Whether the name or the mission statement comes first doesn't matter. Helen then describes in some detail the merits of her garden (Helen's Haven) and summarises it all as:
Helen’s Haven is a sustainable, wildlife habitat, created to attract and feed birds, bees, butterflies and for the enjoyment of friends, family, and visitors to educate, enjoy, and to understand we are the earth’s caretakers, so let’s take care.
There's an interesting discussion in the comments. Most have risen to Helen's challenge and have come up with their own mission statement or name. As statements go, I think they're great - much better than the corporate ones I've been involved with. But I do feel uncomfortable with the implication that somehow I haven't thought deeply enough about what my garden is or means to me if I don't have a name or mission statement. I may be wrong in thinking that, and it also feels too formal for me: I'm reminded of The Garden Monkey's strapline - Smile it's only gardening. For me a garden is fun and it evolves: it grows and sometimes dies; the environment surrounding it changes; I learn new things and apply them - there's a whole creative process in there which I don't think can be bound adequately by words. As for describing it to others without a name or mission statement, I haven't had any difficulty in that direction yet. And should I be imposing my beliefs on them anyway - can't a garden have many meanings depending on our differing beliefs and experiences, just as we all respond in different ways to things like art and music?
So I'm going to decline Helen's challenge and let my garden just be - speaking for itself, continuing on its journey with me and delighting myself and others in so many different ways. Perhaps I might think differently if I was a professional gardener or opened my garden to the public on a regular basis. However, I've enjoyed the thought process along the way to making that decision: my gardening world shifted on its axis for a little while. Now it's back on an even keel again and I feel a sense of relief and contentment.
Footnote - that was originally the end of my piece which I wrote a couple of days ago. However whilst showering this morning, the following just popped into my head:
My garden: ever changing, always learning.
That's the closest to a mission statement you'll get from me. And guess what - I've already had an argument with myself whether there should be full stops instead of a colon and comma ;)
What do you think - will you take Helen's challenge and give your garden a name and/or mission statement, or will you let your garden just be?