Truth is Beauty.

A few weeks ago, my attention was drawn (thanks, Sam) to this post on the really lovely Countryside Tales blog. It’s a very practical post, with reams of useful information for those who would like to share their garden with bees and butterflies.

However, it was these lines that lodged in my head:

‘A lot of attention has rightly been given in recent years to encouraging people to provide nectar sources in their gardens but we also need to provide food plants and to be prepared for these food plants to be eaten and to look nibbled. This may go against the grain for many gardeners, but if we want to support the continued survival of our wildlife (and through them our own), we need to look after them properly and shift our aesthetics a little bit as a result.’ (CT from Countryside Tales)

My mother and grandmother, both wonderful gardeners, set great store by traditional and natural methods BUT they also resorted to the failsafe of chemical pesticides and herbicides when necessary because their ultimate goal was a good display of perfect flowers. That’s the mindset I began with but recently it has shifted.

My Anenome coronaria had massive chunks taken from the petals this year. It was as if someone had taken a scissors and trimmed the petals right off. Touring the garden with me, my Mum (box, closed) suggested a garlic spray. That seemed like a good plan but then, I had to wonder why. Hardly anyone sees the garden but me and I get as much pleasure from the bugs as I do from the flowers so, even from a purely selfish standpoint, it wasn’t worth the effort of mashing garlic (the bugs in my garden benefit greatly from my sheer laziness).

Strangely, that was something of a turning point. CT’s post came soon after and somehow validated my new viewpoint. This might not sound like a big thing and I’m not managing to express it very well. Wiser women than me have written about why gardening is good for body and soul but one reason is surely that it brings us in touch with nature and another is that it envelopes us in beauty.

The thing is, what exactly does beautiful mean? In lots of ways, it means something different to me now than when I was younger. All sorts of imperfections, freckles, laughter lines, scars, scuffed floors and ear-marked pages, move me to that indrawn breath that spells beauty.

My constant is this; let it be real. That line from Keats was one of the few lines of school poetry I took to heart:

 ‘”Beauty is truth, truth beauty,” – that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.’

 

Are the perfectly circular holes in my rose petals beautiful?IMG_6617

I think they are. Letting go of perfection, or taking a different view of perfection, has come as a huge relief.

Whatever bug felt the desire to dine on roses, or maybe line their bed with fragrant pink petals (lucky bug), they have moved on. This week’s challenge is simply rain.

I’ve whined long and hard about rain in these pages but, not today. I’ve found breathtaking beauty in raindrops.

IMG_6887IMG_6907IMG_6878IMG_6886IMG_6916IMG_6881IMG_6900 (2)IMG_6875

You will still, however, find me guilty of killing slugs. Anyone yet discover the beauty in slugs?

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14 thoughts on “Truth is Beauty.

  1. A couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to go to a talk by David Suzuki (a Canadian environmentalist who for years hosted a science documentary show called The Nature of Things). He said many memorable things during his talk that evening, but one thing that especially stuck in my head was the fact that he noticed, and sorely regretted, the “nature on steroids” approach his television show sometimes took. I believe he was mainly referring to the effect of time-lapse photography (that it might have caused viewers to forget the fact that nature is slow, and that patience is required) but the phrase “nature on steroids” has stayed with me, and has coloured my views on a wide variety of issues. We have, for many years now, been sold on a way of life (not just with respect to our gardens, but also in our homes, and about our persons) that seems to be a mix of perfection, instantaneousness, and convenience. It’s quite a toxic blend, with many unforeseen consequences and unacknowledged costs, and I greatly appreciate anyone who works to buck the trend. (In other words, thank you for keeping your blog real!)

    As to beauty … it often takes my breath away to consider how brutal and decidedly NOT (stereotypically) beautiful nature can be. (One only has to think about predator/prey relationships and parasites to realise this.) But all that, too, is real, and it must be necessary (even if my human brain baulks at the necessity of some of it); it all forms an integral role in myriad webs that we as humans are only finally beginning to understand and appreciate.

    (Btw, I have to tell you that I bought some packets of bee-friendly wildflower seeds after your bee post of several weeks ago 🙂 .)

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    1. This is getting weirdly like talking to myself! Except you write better than |I do.
      I have been thinking a lot lately about exactly this, the way we have just accepted a distorted view of how things should be. We are constantly, relentlessly manipulated by marketing in a million different guises. People want to be TOLD what to believe, what to expect, what’s right and what’s wrong. Our instincts are poo-pooed and our intelligence waylaid. It’s infuriating.
      (shivers from satisfying rant)

      Hope those flowers are coming along!

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  2. I loved CT’s post too, and so informative. The rain has been blissful today, I can almost feel the plants drinking it all in after such a long dry spell. I’m not keen on slugs and snails but I struggle to kill them. Lots of things eat them in my garden, so I leave the job to them. There was a little black slug on a rose yesterday, and I tried to imagine what it was like to fill your tummy just with rose petals. Rather luxurious I think. Sometimes I find one hollowing out the inside of a strawberry. Just imagine, if a strawberry was bigger than we were and we could just eat until we were full. I’m not averse to moving the odd snail to a neighbouring plot though… CJ xx

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    1. I love the image of a strawberry big enough to burrow inside! Did you know that snails will find their way ‘home’ from quite long distances. Son did a science project on it. I can’t remember exactly how far you have to go to be beyond homing distance but I remember being horrified by it! I have visions of armies of snails marching home !

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  3. I have a very similar outlook. I realise that the garden is an essential resource for all sorts of bugs. And because of that (plus a lively negligence on my part) I am very happy to accept it as less than immaculate. Though I confess to slaughtering slugs – yet, weirdly, never snails…

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  4. I am testing the effectiveness of copper to protect hostas from slugs, so far so good! I do think as gardeners we are squeezed between the desire for perfection and being environmentally friendly. The problem with ‘natural ‘ sprays is they are non-selective, killing all insects that come into contact with. Should we be growing such plants as hostas?

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    1. Exactly right, Brian. I suppose we have to be reasonable and aim for compromise. After all, any garden must, I think, be better than no garden. I think people go for whatever brings them most joy. I don’t grow Hostas because our climate is SO slug friendly, it would be a constant battle. Remember, I’m a very lazy gardener!

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