When watching Monty Don’s Italian Gardens, great gardens showcased in and around Rome reveal an era where many of the most powerful men at the time showed off their power through building grand gardens. Monty Don expresses the idea that the era was probably the only one in history where the better and bigger the garden the more power you had. While that was the only time where it was explicitly expressed as gardens equaling power, wealth can be seen in other gardens through history. It is an interesting idea that in today’s world, while gardens can be a show of creativity and even possibly wealth, gardens rarely show power or prestige to one’s peers.
Today, a garden shows the style or time of the owner or the bureaucracy of an HOA. Often the most desirable garden is a simple grass lawn, although the simple grass lawn shows some money and time. After all, you either have to pay someone to mow it or you mow it yourself. Some may argue that a lawn shows the least amount of money and time compared to a garden filled with delicate plants that need to be constantly tended and they could be correct. Some may wish for such a garden but are restricted from such by an HOA (Homeowner’s Association for those not familiar with the abbreviation). Regardless of whether or not someone chooses a lawn for time reasons or are required to, there are options in regards to gardens (for those who have them) that can imply values or qualities reminiscent of those Roman gardens.
In today’s world, people value eating local produce or helping the environment through reducing consumption. A garden filled with fruits, vegetables, and other useful plants can reduce an individual’s consumption. You are eating out of your garden and seasonally. A lawn requires regular water consumption as well as possibly needing fertilizer and herbicide to keep it lush and uniform. While a vegetable filled garden may not appeal to you, the idea of a different garden should be heavily considered. What values are you showing with a lawn? Why do HOA’s usually have such a strong requirement list when it comes to the lawns and gardens of their residents? There are usually values attached to those requirements, whether it be order and elegance, perceived or real.
Modern gardens can be used to show wealth and power, depending upon how those values are defined. One could argue that it is a sign of wealth to have a vase full of cut flowers in every room in the house. If you were to grow lots of flowers, you could appear wealthy by showcasing cut arrangements in your home. If you had a garden that supplied all of your fruit and vegetable needs, with a few exceptions, then perhaps you could showcase the power of independence. You are not as dependent upon others as your peers may be for their food. Whether the garden is a food forest, or a Victorian cottage garden with a wide variety of flowers, a modern garden can be used to showcase values beyond aesthetics. While those values may not be as overtly stated as they were in the times of the Roman gardens showcased in Monty Don’s Italian Gardens, the values and possibly worldview of the gardener can be and possibly should be seen in the appearance of a garden even if it is to show power or wealth. Please comment with the values that your garden or lawn showcases and thanks for reading.