In a world where speed is king, the garden forces us to slow down, to return to natural, slow and long cycles. Trees were born before us and will survive us. Plantations deserve attention and patience, to refocus on the long term and no longer demand the instant. The garden itself becomes a therapy. That’s why we should never stop thinking about it. So let’s talk about the philosophy of gardens.
The garden, for most of us, evokes a form of peace, calm, and serenity. A Sunday gardener or a true connoisseur, everyone has already had the experience of contact with plants and the earth, like a sudden return to basics. City dwellers, for their part, enjoy the public gardens and green spaces or else recreate a green space on their balconies.
I – The Philosophy of Gardens Regarding Typology
Isabelle Auricoste gives a very successful definition of the garden: “The garden is one of those forms which pass through history because it is, literally, an inscription, as precise as a magical drawing, which the tillage traces. on the surface of the terrestrial globe, inheriting all the tradition of hand-to-hand combat with the rebellious earth in order to coax it, fertilize it, perhaps enslave it. Each planted and cultivated garden describes the limits of a defined territory, d ‘a reserved and closed domain in which, and through which, the mind has succeeded in understanding and dominating the laws of the universe. “The enchanted enclosure or the figure of the interior “, Mythes et art, 1983.
The author poses all the issues that we will detail here, from man’s work on the garden (and vice versa) to the desire to close it down and privatize it. Where then does this passion for the garden come from? We could go way back in history, but let’s take three gardens. The first is of course the Garden of Eden, an ideal earthly paradise, which alone explains this passion. One cannot omit the golden apples from the Garden of the Hesperides, in Greek mythology, as Herculean labor. Finally, the hanging gardens of Babylon, initiated by Nebuchadnezzar II around -600, belong to the seven wonders of the ancient world.
Consequently, several types of gardens can be defined, without being exhaustive. The first is therefore the religious, spiritual, intellectual garden; which reminds us of cloister gardens, abbeys… The second is nourishing and medicinal, which includes orchards, vegetable gardens, herb gardens, etc. The third is social, called pleasure, decorative. And let’s add a fourth, as Albert the Great thought in ‘De vegetabilibus et plantis’ (1260): “There are gardens which are not of much use and do not produce much. They are in fact arranged for the pleasure of the senses: for the sight and for the smell “.
II – Like the Human Condition
The first objective of the garden is to modify nature, in order to put it at the service of man. Wilderness is transformed into a garden, the latter taming nature to feed and protect people. Long before Marx’s historical materialism, Descartes noted that machines allow men to become “masters and owners of nature” (Discourse on Method, 1637).
And, in our big cities, the gardens are intended to reproduce nature, to recreate plots of greenery, to reintroduce plants in cemented urban landscapes. Beyond the ecological or environmental activities, the awareness of the vital necessity of trees makes you think. The greening of streets and buildings is one example. It is the whole paradox of the human condition which destroys and recreates all at the same time, in an eternal cycle that is accelerating.
From labor to art, there is only one step: the garden is also the aesthetic symbol of power, excellence, greatness. Versailles and the castles of the Loire made France’s reputation under the Age of Enlightenment. And finally, the garden also allows action. Shared, solidarity or even reintegration gardens represent a form of commitment in the same way as politics.
The splendor of the garden is thus to lead man to confront his condition, in the sense of Arendt: work, work, and action. The garden underlines the difficulty of men in understanding their condition. When the work is destroyed in an infernal cycle, the action tries as best it can create, institute, mark the beginning.
III – Between Private and Public
The garden falls under the different facets of the “vita activa” and the “vita contemplativa” depending on its degree of publicity. The public garden offers the possibility, in cities, in particular, to take a green break, to meet, to open up. The private gardens, closed, reserved for a residence come to pose the first barriers. And it is also particularly interesting to observe the green spaces, often rectangular, framed by four buildings. Are they accessible from the outside, and if so, with a code, or are they available to everyone? Suppose they are open, would we dare to enter them while not being a resident?
And of course, the gardens belonging to a dwelling, therefore private, are exclusive, reserved for their owner. Inviting others to their garden is not trivial: the invitation then marks the other’s penetration into private life. Even stronger is the secret garden, which tends towards the Innermost. The representation of this secret garden is quite fascinating. It can be a real, existing garden: a secret childhood place, for example. Or, to be a mental garden, in which one exiles oneself. And above all, it can be in itself the depth of the secret being. And depending on the degree of privacy given to this secret garden, one may or may not invite the other.
IV – The Philosophy of Gardens-The Garden of Thought
“As soon as we talk about a garden, we should go beyond the plane geometry and integrate the third dimension into our meditation. Because the man-garden by vocation digs the earth and questions the sky. (…) But there is still for the man-garden the fourth dimension, I mean metaphysics. ” Michel Tournier, Le Vent Paraclet, Gallimard, 1979.
The spiritual garden, inviting both reflection and contemplation, brings to mind, quite naturally, Epicurean philosophy and the famous reflection of Voltaire through the voice of Candide: “we must cultivate our garden”. Indeed, the garden works the body and the mind. It is real praise for slowness, perseverance, and patience. Like a garden, thought and reflection are exercised little by little, and it takes time to forge your own free will. Fortunately, the garden no longer has its beautiful plants, real nuggets. And to accompany them, the metaphor is omnipresent in our common language: we speak of business incubators, economic ecosystems, etc.
V – Your Interior Garden, According to Lise Morin
As an indication, the following text is an extract from his work “Cultivate your interior garden”, precisely, chapter 1 of the book under the title: a vacant lot. In this book, speaking of an indoor garden, she refers to the subconscious. Let’s read together…
“By birthright, you own, you who read these lines, without having to negotiate or pay for it, your own land. You received it as a gift. And it is at the heart of this vast expanse, in the limits that only you will want to give it, that will unfold the rest of your life.
Maybe you thought the term “wasteland” meant just some bit of land, ravaged and unsuitable for cultivation, that no one would want. But it is not.
When you were born, the Great Creative Power of all Good, God according to your conception, made no distinction for you. She didn’t judge you to be more or less deserving than any other individual, of any race or color, inhabiting this planet. This miraculous power has bestowed on you, without any favoritism or discrimination, the same right to a prosperous and fully happy life as anyone else. You inherited, by the very fact of being born, a perfect ground which, in the beginning, was not “vague”. It was, as it still is and always will be, an infinite dimension and the soil was rich and fertile. Only the fresh and tender shoots of your innocence stood there. It was eternally beautiful in this space which was a reflection of the most perfect paradise that you can conceive.
During your early years, still ignoring the essential rules of mental gardening, not being able to take good care of your lot yourself, you had to allow others to plant their own culture there. You were only allowed to sow there yourself only the naive flowers of your childish laughter and your joys all tinged with purity. As your capacity to think grew, you held tight to the precepts you were force-fed and absorbed like a sponge. Little by little, the weeds have, in spite of you, invaded your land. The soil, little or no maintenance, became impoverished and soon did not mature more than the most robust plants, capable of suffocating the most fragile.
We must not understand that it is easier to cultivate unhappiness and suffering. The first seed that falls on favorable ground feeds on the richness of the earth and the resulting plant over time acquires its endurance. If nothing comes to counter this process, this plant, drawing its substance from the soil, will always extend its roots further and will end up reigning supreme over an increasingly vast area.
It is then easy to conceive that if the original seed is one of misery, it will flourish in your garden as freely as a seed of ease, joy, or satisfaction. Your upbringing and the beliefs transmitted to you, the teachings you have received have so far provided you with a multitude of seeds which you have scattered to the four winds without worrying about the inevitable harvest.
Your own ignorance, as well as that of your educators, has, more than anything, been the cause of your dismal results. Because ignorance of the rules does not free anyone from their effects, good or bad. This is how discouraged, you abandoned this land which has become a heap of branches and debris of all kinds.
Symbolically, you may have “sold” or “rented” your land to other gardeners who are more or less experienced or willing to improve it. If, when you reach adulthood, you still rely disproportionately on others for your good, if you fear excessively the judgments and criticisms of others, if you believe that your happiness lies in the hands of another person, if you are constantly looking for the approval of your actions by others, then, yes, you have momentarily ceded your lot to people who do not have the same tools as you and who, despite their goodwill, will only succeed in a small measure to meet your needs. Everyone is responsible for their own garden. You must never hand over any part of it to foreign hands. I’m not saying that everyone around you is ill-intentioned, I’m saying: no one can achieve your goals for you!
Because goodwill is not an effective tool in the garden of others. Others may want your good, but they will always be unable to provide it to you. This is also true for yourself: you will never be able to provide others with the quality of life they aspire to. The reason is very simple: you don’t have the happiness of others any more than they have yours. Happiness cultivates itself! Do you no longer dare, after these details, to consider your property as a profitable value? Do you think your life is a mess? Does your land seem irrecoverable to you? Do you feel like you’re floundering or stuck in a quagmire? Do you no longer believe that a change is possible or are you worried that things will get worse?
Whatever your current situation, in whatever physical or economic slump you find yourself in, you must from this moment realize that, even if you have turned away from your land, the earth will tirelessly continue to produce what, in your unconsciousness, you persist in sowing mindlessly.
Because the earth, if it contains incalculable riches, is not responsible for the harvest, the earth never makes a decision or chooses, the earth sticks to its unique and impersonal role which is to produce exactly what is contained in the seed. The land is inherently available and generous; she blindly obeys your orders, whatever they may be.
I know that you did not want or wish your woes, illnesses, failures and it can be hard to believe that you are the author of them, as much as to believe that it is possible for you to be immediately the craftsman of a completely different concept.
You were born with a “green thumb” and, thanks to the extraordinary tools that you have inside you, you will acquire the certainty that you are not limited either in time or in space. You have the power to begin from this moment to improve the condition of your land and, undoubtedly, you will be able, in the most complete delight, to see it transform. Depending on the intensity of your desire and the measure of your personal talents, it will turn into a fresh vegetable garden from which your finest qualities will emerge, a lush orchard where, as far as the eye can see, your projects carried out will make the trees of success, a rockery embalming the air with the perfume of multiplied joys which will enhance with the most brilliant colors the precious shrubs of your fulfilled desires. Or in all of these things at the same time.
It is enough for you to want it and this devastated ground, where you can now distinguish only the thistles of despair and the nettles of misery, will be able, under the magic of your efforts, to be transformed into a true splendor.
There is no difference between the culture of Happiness and that of Unhappiness. Both are states of mind and they use the exact same Law to manifest in your life. The fact of having opened this book proves your conscious desire to know this Law better and the more subtle one to know yourself. This desire will launch you on a wonderful adventure, to discover your hidden treasures. All you have to do is take the first step by constantly bringing your thinking back to this simple truth: we inevitably reap what we sow.
It is therefore important to take immediate action by accepting the idea that your current situation depends only on yourself and immediately identifying yourself with the master gardener you are capable of being.
Above all, don’t be discouraged by the disorder that reigns where you look, because this upheaval is only apparent. Instead, close your eyes and start now to plan, to design your indoor garden, to see it as an immutable reality that already exists. “. […]