One of the things I love about garden writers is the way they express the familiar through new eyes. I may not agree completely on their take of it, but it brings me into a new appreciation of something that I might have cataloged and then filed away in some obscure forgotten corner of my mind.
In our quest for the new, we have a tendency to do that. This tendency keeps us from becoming overly parochial in our thinking, but it can also become its own little trap. Neglecting something of value and beauty just because it isn’t novel, and valuing quite mundane things simply because they are novel.
So after writing my own article on “The Prairie Garden” which is a landscape form native to my area, it is with much enjoyment that I came across some lively discussion of how Europeans, in the words of Englishmen in particular, view this garden state (and for most of us, it is a garden state- having lost 99.9% of true natural prairie in our country).
Noel of “Noels Garden Blog” writes many cogent points about the European interpretation of our prairies, much of which is in response to thinkinGardens’ review of “Noel Kingsbury’s Roundabouts”. You know, those bits of planting in the busy urban thoroughfare.
One of the very best garden books I have come across, Sally Wasowski’s Gardening with Prairie Plants: How to Create Beautiful Native Landscapes, says this:
“A prairie landscape can be a simple residential garden as small as a few hundred square feet, or it can be the primary vegetational expression for a whole subdivision… Or it can look more like a classic flower garden that substitutes prairie forbs and grasses for standard exotic nursery stock”
And it is in the spirit of that last suggestion that the roundabouts seem to have been planted. The flavor of the American prairie which gives Noel the literary impetus to present us this view, “So, the hypothetical American asks, why do all these Europeans so love our prairie?” To which he gives a five part answer.
Actually many of American gardeners have to ask the same hypothetical of ourselves. We so often do not know about, much less appreciate, our own native landscapes.
And so, it is educational and edifying to revisit our own landscape form through the eyes of thinking Englishmen to come roundabout to our own discoveries of our rich horticultural blessings.
I wrote a review of Wasowski’s book, here.