This stream of consciousness (below) was a comment I left on VP's blog, on a post looking at some of the gardens at Chelsea this year. Some of the comments seemed to suggest that unless you were prepared to build your own show garden (i.e. 'put up or shut up'), then you had no right to comment on a garden.
Garden bloggers come from a whole range of backgrounds, from award winning garden designers and judges, right through the spectrum to interested amateurs like myself. I do photograph and comment on show gardens, and say which bits I like, which I wasn't so sure about, even though I'm a Know-Nothing Bozo when it comes to the practice of competitive garden design. But looking critically at a garden helps me. I make no claim to any knowledge on the topic, but does that preclude me from making comments on how I feel?
Anyway, I've introduced this post - what follows below is my comment:
"I think it's a shame that some people think that you can't critically analyse a garden without thinking of it as a criticism of the person who made that garden. I realise that because gardening is so personal, it can be hard to separate critical discussion of a garden from how the creator feels about it, but with something in the public arena (such as a show garden), one must expect people to discuss the work.
Can only qualified garden designers pass comment on a show garden? I will never have the imagination and inspiration to design a show garden. So does that mean that I have no right to comment on what *I* find works well or doesn't work so well (to my mind) in a garden? When I spend some time really looking at a show garden, there will always be things that I may not think are perfect. At least not for me. A dozen different people stood in front of that show garden will have a dozen different views. But by looking at that garden, looking at what *I feel* works, what *I feel* could be done differently, I am helping myself understand that garden. I might not understand it how the designer does, but I understand it how it relates to my own experiences, what *I* can take away to use.
Is that not the whole point of a show garden? Or are we to mutely look in awe at what we mere amateur gardeners will never achieve. And if we want to write about what we have learnt, what we have taken away, to share with others? Not everyone who reads what we write will agree with what we say, but at least we have caused them to think about it a little more deeply, too.
Not everyone can design a show garden. But we can all look, we can learn, and as someone who teaches (though nothing to do with gardening) and learns, I find critical analysis a very powerful learning tool. So, when I read about show gardens on people's blogs, and they comment on how *they* feel about a garden, it makes me think: What do *I* feel? And that is good."