a geometric and abstract flower of different colors against a green background

On the Necessity of Gardening: An ABC of Art, Botany and Cultivation

by Laurie Cluitmans Author and Marieke Barnas Author

In this abecedarium of gardening, trace the garden as a source of inspiration and metaphor back through centuries of history. A wide variety of artists, writers, poets, thinkers, scientists, and more have conceived of and characterized the garden in myriad ways: a place of harmony and fertility, separated from the world. A Biblical locale, primeval and rife with symbolic and spiritual significance. These conceptions have also shifted with history. By the 18th century, the garden began to be thought of as a more worldly place, tied up in the minutiae of politics and power. In today's day and age, the garden has unfortunately become a metaphor for humankind's entire relationship to the earth: we have influenced the planet to such a degree, and exercise such a great deal of influence over the planet, that we now must conceive of ourselves as gardeners - albeit somewhat incompetent ones - desperately trying to hold off the weeds of climate change and biodiversity collapse. On The Necessity of Gardening touches on important figures in the history of the garden from over the centuries, as well as concepts in agriculture and horticulture and their correlatives in human culture. A profoundly important and fascinating read for anyone who has their own experience of gardening, ecologists everywhere, and art historians and philosophers as well. A sprawling and timely volume.