We all - certainly most of us - take joy in observing the first golden shoots emerging in spring, in planning aesthetic improvements for our gardens, in contemplating the garden at twilight, some of us may even enjoy weeding.
I'm convinced that gardening is much more than that, that in fact it is preserving knowledge and ways of being in the world that are in danger of being lost.
This isn't a review, only a brief note to say that I just finished this not-easy-to-read-but-certainly-worth-it book by David E. Cooper, a Professor of Philosophy at Durham University in England. David Cooper was featured speaker at one of the recent Vista lectures at the Garden Museum in London. I listened to the podcast of the lecture with interest, and to the prickly, engaging question and answer following it. The book is about the meaning of gardening; why we do it.
We do it for many reasons, of course, but apparently no one has attempted a rigorous analysis of this question, at least not in the last couple of centuries. I understand I'm probably among the small minority of American garden bloggers and blog readers who might have sufficient interest in this question to read Cooper's book. I recommend it to those of you who share that interest. You may want to try the podcast first but, frankly, I found Cooper's manner of presentation a little off-putting, certainly highly academic. The book itself, though demanding, offers greater rewards.
Why do we garden? Out of context, the answer is a little bare so I make no attempt to paraphrase it, only saying this book gives answers to the question of "why The Garden is distinctive and why The Garden matters."