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08 March 2007

The Essential Question--Why Garden?

The essential question then is, why do I do this thing called landscaping? Why be a landscaper of all things? Given my experience and education, I could, after all, do many more lucrative, less stressfull and straining, and certainly less messy things to earn my bread. Being a professional landscaper--a designer and a contractor--is stressfull, if only because of all the utterly uncontrollable things to which one is subject. Take the weather, for example. Rain is good. Rain is bad. So many things we do, cannot be done in the rain or, sometimes, for days after a rain.

Now, if it is raining on a somewhat normal cycle here in Georgia, then that sucks up a good portion of every week. But, you can't pray it doesn't rain. If there is no rain for any period of time, then that is bad for so much else we do (i.e., helping plants grow and live). In fact, the few years of drought we had in Georgia a few years ago have had dramatic, and permanent impacts on the way landscapers work, especially from a regulatory stand point. However, I digress. The point is that there are myriad things over which we have utterly no control, yet the results of which we are held responsible for. This is just one stressor, and why would one choose that life?

I love being a landscaper. I am a landscape designer. I am a gardener, and landscape contractor I own and operate a complete-service landscape services firm. We are involved in the full spectrum of landscaping operations. There is just some inexplicable joy I have (many times) envisioning, planning, overcoming the inexorable, and creating.

There is an article asking a similar question about why we garden. The answer is not easily answered. For me it is a primordial urge. An ancient compulsion. I am called from deep within to willingly choose to sweat, to freeze, to be mud stained, to back ache in this fashion. In Georgia, with our clay soils, several creator analogies come to mind.

In Japan, there was a class of priests, shitateso, who were landscape designers. Later, this became a lay class, but also became a "Way." It became a path toward enlightenment. In essence, it always was a path toward enlightment, toward mystical unity. Life on this planet was not designed to be "easy" in the modern convenience sense. However, it is designed to be easy from the stand point of walking through this life, addressing the things that present themselves, as they present themselves, not attaching emotional judgements to them. It rains and this creates things which make other things easy. It rains and this creates things which make other things difficult. The "hard" or "easy" enters when we put an emotional judgement on the rain and its effects.

This sounds very philosophical, and it is. And this is why I love landscaping, gardening, mud, sun, trees, rain, and all that comes with it. Because, it is about taking things as they are and as they come. Philosophy attempts to explain things in a conscious, intellectual framework. Gardening allows me to experience things on a primal, pre-intellectual plane. All the explaining in this rant is summed up when I prune my Okame cherry. (priests who move rocks). Washing the red clay mud stains from my hands says all of the above and more.

A.J., Proudland Landscape, LLC. © 2007

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