Issue 004

Garden

Utter Journal, Issue 4. Spring 2020.

 

£12

Garden

James Joyce wrote that “places remember events.” Our garden is a three-quarter acre plot of land. I’ve photographed this
area, or more correctly within it, for twenty-seven years. At times, with observational boredom and then with the boredom of
being observational, a pedant cataloguing the structure of plants and the universe of a garden and family growing up together.


There’s little here to reference the nature of gardens or gardening. This is about a space being a place, a backdrop to
belonging, a record of trajectory, its own Archimedes Palimpsest of the in-between. For me, this garden is a world away from
the world outside, and always, right here, beneath this earth, exists a delicious reverberation of a past. A spatial understanding that defies moment, an unequivocal balance of spirit from Eden to eternity.


Ultimately, a garden is relative to use, either formal, secret, playground, a shrine to the absence of seasons or the passing of
our own temporality. This garden has its origins as a marshy swamp and, after digging out several hundred yards of dyke,
building a flood wall, clearing the alder carr and wheeling in thousands of barrows of soil, we were able to stabilise the
encroaching growth of the hinterland. Within there is the essence of structure. Do nothing for two years and little trace of the
activity and effort in its creation would remain. In summer the garden is cocooned by reed and bulrush six feet tall. In the winter much is lost beneath the water, and the plants retreat back into the earth.


A child would surmise the garden as a battlefield, a dolls house, an aerodrome, a football pitch, a den, frightening, joyous. Then there are the forgotten corners of play, the sandpit, the trampoline, the netball hoop, the treehouse, and the places we made our own. The map of the territory fitted them in. The sometime garden of pot plants, guinea pig runs, a tadpole tank, beehives, or children running around in fancy dress. There are the structural stresses and strains of the trees, the sculptural form of the natural at ease with the landscape of gardening. But always this was governed by the politics of time, like a straggler endlessly catching up with the demands of family and function, and occasionally when these two came together in perfect alignment, the garden changed again and moved on.


Now the garden is reaching its intermission, waiting for the next to take on the fissures of memory and belonging, or perhaps
give it back to be wild, unruly, overgrown, the eternal rebirth of nature and her imperceptible passage of evolution. I like that.