Grab Bag

Is this how the Left sees gardeners?

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I stumbled upon a leftie website called Irregular Times, which has a section on "Gardening from the Underground," titled Irregular Growth. I suppose that’s a good thing, but read the introduction: 

Gardening – when one hears the word
one thinks of old people: retired couples with nothing to do, aged
devotees of Martha Stewart, or rich, matriarchal wives jealously
guarding access to their garden and gossip clubs. Like so many other
traditional domestic activities, gardening often feels like a relic, a
holdover from a past of little relevance to the electronic, simulated,
placeless world of today.

The gardens that we see on television and read about in newspapers
and magazines reflect the ludicrous mismatch between the literal
earthiness of gardening and the desires for perfection that have
emerged as a part of our virtual culture. These gardens might as well
be experienced on a computer monitor. They are completely managed, with
no surprises. They are without depth, texture, and odor, separated from
the environment around them. They are to nature what the Epcot Center
is to culture.

Irregular Growth
rejects the idea of gardens as museums. In a world in which consumerism
is equated with virtue, gardening has the potential to become a
subversive art. These pages are centered around the effort to realize
that potential, reacquainting people with their humanity through a
symbolic immersion in the natural world.

Come grow with us.

Where to start!  Maybe with the description of gardeners, with "old",
"retired, "aged" and "gossip" all in the same sentence.  And is YOUR garden ludicrous, perfect, completely managed,
with no surprises,  without depth, texture and odor, an Epcot Center
Museum?

And turning to the articles themselves, it’s a weird little collection that I read so you don’t have to.  Just one quote, though, on weeds:

Weeds help a garden seem integrated into the landscape that
surrounds it. Weeds remind a garden viewer that a flower bed is located
in a particular place with a natural community of plants. Unlike the artificially perfect curves of the trendy mulched flower
beds, the curves created by weeds make sense within a landscape. Weeds
follow the terrain, living in great sweeps with borders defined by the
rise and fall of the land and the natural distribution of nutrients and
soil texture. Weeds always make sense where they grow. Their appearance
is never contrived.

Yeah, down with trendy mulched flower beds!

The obvious question is who ARE these people, so I wrote to ask- there being no About page – and was told that "Some of the people who post to our site don’t want to have their political
writings interfere with their day jobs (which unfortunately can happen)."

Wow, if people are being fired for their positions on flower beds, we want to know!  We’re bloggers, after all, risking our livelihoods every day to take positions on these defining issues.

Photo by Michael Krinkle via iStock, where it’s filed with the tag "active senior".

Posted by on August 30, 2008 at 5:21 am, in the category Grab Bag.
Comments are off for this post

37 Responses to “Is this how the Left sees gardeners?”

  1. trey says:

    It’s so trendy to bash gardeners these days. Put “guerrilla” in front of it it’s cool. Or plant a “Victory Garden” in front of San Francisco’s City Hall and your an “agent of change”.

    This is all temporary. Soon being a “gardener” will be considered a badge of honor. It’s all semantics. These very people who have the “Irregular Growth” page would be considered gardeners. They probably prefer “Eco Warrior” or “agents of horticultural change” but if they garden, they are gardeners.

    You know what else? These people will be old and maybe retired some day. I wonder how they will sound then?

  2. Lzyjo says:

    It’s the truth, gardening isn’t just for little old ladies and retired couples. It doesn’t matter who you are, an inner city resident gardening in a community garden, a skinhead, ecominded-Subaru-driving greenhead, or whatever, anyone and everyone, young and old can appreciate gardening.

  3. Kitt says:

    Wow. That’s laughable.

  4. www says:

    As a committed gardener and progressive Democrat, I am a little bothered by the phrase, “leftie website.” I haven’t perceived a bias in this blog before. Have I been naive?

  5. susan harris says:

    Well, www, it so happens we have About pages here and I think mine answers your question about my political leanings:
    http://www.gardenrant.com/my_weblog/2006/05/about_susan.html
    In my town, “leftie” is a term of great affection.

    About GardenRant’s “politics,” I think the manifesto tells you we’re pro-environment, pro-consumer and pro-gardening.

  6. mlu says:

    I hope you maintain your bias in favor of straight and clear talk, and for laughing at folly.

    Your bias against weeds in your flower beds also seems okay with me.

    I’m wondering whether www would have perceived a bias if you had not used the term “leftie” but had otherwise disagreed with the leftie vision in precisely the same way–that weird need to feel smarter than everyone else by looking down on traditional goodness, feeling superior to the not-yet-enlightened who, for example, mulch their flower beds.

  7. Kim says:

    I was thinking wha . . . . until I read that paragraph on weeds. I especially like this sentence: “Weeds remind a garden viewer that a flower bed is located in a particular place with a natural community of plants.” No kidding. But we don’t need the weeds to remind us. Of COURSE a flower bed is located in a particular place. With a natural community of plants. Oh, my. Susan, I’m glad you wrote about them, but I think I’ll have to pass checking them out. Instead, I’m going to take my young (debatable), non-retired, overworked, non-devoted-to-Martha and most decidedly non-rich a$$ out into the garden to do some gardening. Anyone care to join me?

  8. Reading Dirt says:

    I detect a desperate need to make themselves look like they’re NOT doing things they way mother did them! Nosir! Just because my mother gardens and I garden does NOT mean we’re at all alike! Absolutely not!

  9. Amy Stewart says:

    I think it’s lazy writing. It’s kind of like opening an article with, “Organics used to be for Birkenstock-wearing tree huggers. But no more!” You make some claim about how awful things have been up until now so that you can launch into the clever alternative your sharp reporting skills have just uncovered.

  10. Diana says:

    Oh, she’s wearing WHITE! Reminds me of the people on HG-TV who paint wearing new clothes.

    Woe is me! I’m such a slob….as my weeds attest.

  11. This woman is out in left field, – not to be confused ( as the poor thing obviously is ) with being on the left side of politics.

    She needs to get out in the world a little bit more to get up to speed with current gardening events.

    poor thing.

  12. Karen says:

    I am all for encouraging any and all to take up gardening, and maybe making it seem hip, edgy and cool is what might motivate someone. But geez, defending the rights of weeds? That’s just straight up stoopid.
    - Karen
    http://greenwalks.wordpress.com

  13. susan harris says:

    Michelle, we’re not told the gender of the author of these quotes, but the person who responded to my email is a guy in Columbus, OH.
    The photo is from another source entirely – sorry for any confusion.

  14. www says:

    Sorry Susan. In my area, ‘leftie’ is a pejorative and not appreciated. Thank you for your response. Sorry to have been a bother.

  15. I don’t think we’re going to be able to make do with “guerrilla gardening” and “victory garden” &c. We need new coinages.

    Perhaps “kick-ass gardening?”

    Or “technical gardening?” (It doesn’t *mean* anything, remember. Just trying to sound cool.)

    “Stress gardening?”

    “Slightly irregular gardening?”

    “Extreme gardening?”

    I’ll work on this.

  16. Gloria says:

    Susan, lefty is a term of endearment in this household as well as liberal.
    I understand completely that gardener has some old world like quality that might make many avoid the use, just like lefty.
    While a rose is a rose by any name,each is unique in cultivation,color fragrance,and beauty.
    Gardener or Eco warrior(I like that,it would make a great blog title)its all good with me.
    I leave many weeds grow since I read ‘The One Straw Revolution’by
    Masanobu Fukuoka.
    I will not try to convince you of the benefits of some weed growth for it takes a mind set that will lead you there eventually anyway.

    It isn’t stupid it is just the way new generation bring relavence to what they do.

  17. Gloria says:

    oops relevance…reversed those vowels…Gloria

  18. susan harris says:

    About the Irregular Gardener’s pro-weed position, I’m on the record as pro-weed myself, here
    http://www.gardenrant.com/my_weblog/2008/07/blumen.html , as well as in too many pro-clover and pro-dandelion posts to list.

  19. Pamela says:

    I read the intro differently. I think the intention was to say that gardening is not only for old and retired people…to suggest that gardening has relevance in today’s world.

  20. Pamela says:

    AND the take on weeds has merit.

  21. Eve says:

    What an arrogant little idiot. Someone needs to take a strap to that behind. But I have head liberals reason with their children instead of spanking them..Yeah. How’s that working for you?

    I am 64 years old and have an organic garden. I put up a lot of our food. I do believe the liberals think they have cornered the market on taking care of the planet.

    My garden doesn’t know or care if I am liberal or conservative,,,what age I am or how much money I have. It grows anyway : ) but it sure doesn’t hurt to know the man upstairs.

  22. Reading Dirt says:

    But I have head liberals reason with their children instead of spanking them..Yeah. How’s that working for you?

    One earned his Eagle Scout rank and is enrolled in the college of his choice where he’s studying electrical engineering. The other finished a four-year degree in graphic arts and got a great job right out of college at a great advertising firm.

    Worked just fine, I reckon.

  23. Pamela says:

    It worked fine for me as well; my children turned out to be remarkable people, even though they were raised by a non-spanking liberal mom.

  24. Pam J. says:

    Must chime in here too. No spanking in our house either, but we managed to produce two fine young adult kids. They had limits, they got punishments when deserved, they occasionally heard a parent say “No, you can’t. Period. No discussion”—particularly when they were teens. “Strap to the behind” sounds a little too much like Abu Ghraib.

  25. LOL! That’s the best excuse for being too lazy to weed. They seem to have confused the concept of native plants with weeds, most of which are aliens (I consider the native ragweed a weed).
    On the philosophy behind this, all I can say is that I’ve always been a bit subversive. Gardening in this culture of manicured lawns & beds tended by landscaping crews is a countercultural activity. Tearing up lawn to turn it into a garden is definitely subversive, as it is a turning away from the conformity of the lawn & its dependence on chemicals & petroleum. Instead of “gardener” maybe they’d prefer the term “earth tender.”

  26. luise h. says:

    The best thing about gardening are the possibilities.It’s your piece of Earth.Garden as you wish.Allow others to do the same.When I am out there,doing whatever I have chosen to do on this day,I dont think about how my way is the only way.Do you? We need a little more kindness people,just a little more kindness.

  27. Nancy says:

    Sigh, I went and read there anyway. The article I rolled my eyes at most was the one that equated gardening with murder.

    Oh, yes. Murder.

    See, we murder those poor defensless plants when we rip out the weeds, and when we steal the fruit and devour the leaves, uncaringly oblivious to their dripping sap filled wounds.

    We destroy whole plants when we yank up potatoes and carrots just to satisfy our murderous hunger…

    Well… it just goes downhill from there. Not that it was very elevated in the first place.

  28. Old Kim says:

    Is that the how the left side of our brain sees gardening?
    The lady with the marigold is fiction, isn’t she?

  29. Shibaguyz says:

    Since when did it become relevant if you were a liberal or a conservative when it comes to gardening or taking care of the planet?

  30. Barbara says:

    You go Eve! Send this explanation to Anita in PA!

    Sounds like these folk created a new “movement” with a great pr spin so their weed encroachment can be explained as being trend setters of a new, cool movement.

    Where I see weeds really happy, I see it as an opportunity – - a new place is calling out to put in a perennial. Help – Japanese stilt grass is invading!

  31. Laura -- Mpls says:

    If I were 5 times more clever than I am (and 5 times less lazy) I would have written a number of things on that site as a parody to justify why my garden is a mess. It’s almost too funny to be true.

  32. Brenda says:

    Wow, so much wrong with this that I don’t know where to start. I guess I have to say this because of some of the comments. I like to think of myself as a gardener, non-political, organic, neither left nor right. I have gardener friends on both sides of the political spectrum. I think we have the soil in common. As far as this part: “Like so many other traditional domestic activities, gardening often feels like a relic, a holdover from a past of little relevance.” Oh man, just slap me now. Where does this person think their food comes from? Gardening is and never will be a thing of the past and certainly NEVER irrelevant.

  33. Lisa says:

    Geez, whatever. Susan, I think you’re right on target.
    Gardening needs to be for all of us, for sure.

    I just stumbled onto Piet Oudolf and Henk Gerritsen’s books (I knew the names, but not the work) and Ann Lovejoy’s Organic Gardening Design School, and realized that we’re definitely on the right track.

  34. susan harris says:

    Lisa, Ann Lovejoy is my MAIN gardening guru. She was introduced to me by another favorite gardening guru – Paul James, who interviews her often.

  35. Michele Owens says:

    Gardening is a subversive act. Anything that doesn’t involve getting in the car and heading for Home Depot or Boston Market and consuming mindlessly whatever is dished out by big corporations is a subversive act in early 21st century America.

  36. Lisa Albert says:

    I’ve described myself as an abnormal gardener on a local radio gardening show. Does that count?

    Lisa and Susan, I’m a fan of Ann Lovejoy, too. I own quite a few of her books and I heard her speak often back when she was a regular on the lecture circuit. She was entertaining, informative and good at keeping her audience’s attention. I’ve visited her garden and the nursery she co-owned on Bainbridge Island – both were a treat, as is Ann, whom I’ve had the pleasure of meeting a number of times. She helped Bainbridge Gardens become a completely organic nursery when she became a partner and she’s given presentations to the trade about the process.

  37. Kitt Just let it go. Its just a blog post, not a political message

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