More Than Pretty Ilona Erwin Mar 16, 2012 5 Comments

 It's true, and that was something I wrote about in these garden thoughts. But pretty can make some of life's all too real tragedy bearable. It is that fine balance, really, that the making of art revolves around. There is a time for photo documentary and there is a time for photoshop... to put it in familiar terms.

One thing that often bothered me about the art world was the restrictive elitism of all that angst which was supposed to mean you were a "real artist"; and one thing that I loved, conversely, about gardening was the way a garden was an expression of whatever you feel is wonderful or beautiful or ....yes, just plain pretty. The problem with mere prettiness in life is when it becomes a consuming editor of all our aims and thoughts.

Sometimes I don't want my garden, or my writing, or my communication to be only the merely pretty. But I do want beauty, which is sometimes wild, and sometimes quite trained and tamed.

I guess my point is that as soon as we make these odd sorts of "rules" we miss out on the wide spectrum of experience that life is supposed to contain.

Nothing is wrong with "pretty" or "pleasant" until it becomes a petty bureaucratic taskmaster. You know, the politically correct syndrome. Much of life's real beauty is about freedom is another way I would phrase it.  Freedom is beautiful. Freedom flourishes with ideas and guidelines, and suffers terribly with too many rules, and martinets to enforce them. And nothing like art points that out half so well.

Which brings me to something I believe about gardening. Gardens at their best are an art expression. They are man's hand upon nature, sometimes so subtle that it is an illusion of no manipulation at all to the extremes of control and imagination, but they are most definitely an outcome of the mind, will, sweat, sometimes blood, and finances of the maker.

So yes, a garden is more than merely pretty, but pretty certainly is part of it.

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© 2012 written for Ilona's Garden Journal. An excellent blog.
by Ilona Erwin

A gardener, blogger, writer, who has been blogging here since 2004, and writing for my website, Ilona's Garden since 1998.

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  1. Good evening Ilona: Gardening is an art. No matter what type of gardener you are you are connected to nature and the art of gardening. Some of us are also artists in other ways. But to be a gardener you must also be an artist.

    Have a wonderful evening,

  2. I like how you say gardening is beyond pretty but it's an art in itself. :)

  3. Gardening in its larger sense is hard to quantify and define. That is why I like to keep it as free as possible. But the gardens I most love are always works of art... so I guess I am biased in that direction.

    Thanks for the comments- they always give me fodder for thought and make this blog a conversation- the best part of blogging :)

  4. Hey Ms. Ilona, I know it's been a long time since I've visited but I'm glad I stopped by today. I want to suggest the perfect book that matches the topic of your post "More Than Pretty." It's Felder Rushing's latest publication "Slow Gardening: A No-Stress Philosophy for All Senses and Seasons." I think you'd find it an enjoyable read.

  5. I read your last blog, where you put the quote "The chief vice of gardens is to be merely pretty". I love it - gardens should be pretty (who wants an ugly one?) but it's more than just how it looks. The reward comes from seeing how your effort has transformed it, whatever it ends up looking like! Some people prefer their gardens to have nice, neat rows of colour-coordinated plants, others like it more 'natural'. I don't think either is better than the other, and they're certainly both 'pretty'!


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