A dreary few days of rain is doing its bit to spoil what's left of melancholy autumn. The sun will certainly come out again and play across the dying garden, reviving opportunity for more uplifting views of autumn brew shot through with glittering shafts of light. But all that's left in my cold, wet clearing in the woods will be the textures and foliage colors of a flowerless season - quite unlike the late show of Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day.
Frankly, I tire of pretty pictures and happy talk so prevalent among American garden blogs; I think this has more to do with American culture and its denial of the facts of life (of sex, death, suffering, rot and dissolution, take your pick) than with gardens or gardening, which can be and often are routes to deeper understanding of our place in this universe. Instead, we find art talk in design magazines, craftsmanship as commodity (very expensive, that garden bench, at $7000 per), white gardens, blue gardens, rose gardens, "English" gardens, and, lowest of the low, the pristine desert lawn and Disneyland.
The focus of American culture on the frothy and the superficial, even the seeking after "sustainability," which has long ago been co-opted as yet another commodity, as has "organic," doesn't cure cancer, stop wars, end child slavery or work to prevent any of the many other horrors we wish to hide from our eyes. In spite of our diversions, we all ultimately find a path to realization of our own physical end. It's considered bad taste to write about sadness or the darker side of life, though that seems appropriate to our time.
Around the corner from us, a man has put out a sign announcing he's a landscaper. The bank at the front of his house is covered in black mulch. He planted a few perennials, sun lovers, in deep shade (they died), and at the side are several large, complicated, expensive machines for moving earth and carrying heavy loads. What does this landscaper cultivate? Certainly not life.
A first step to taking gardens seriously is to allow in the full range of human emotions. Until we begin to do that, gardens will continue to be relegated to the "hobby" category by the cataloguers of our lives. Gardening will remain a harmless diversion ... so long as the plants don't get too high.