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Essay garden in mother our search

These enclosed outdoor spaces became images of watered perfection within the imperfect hubbub of the city. Nicolson is a grandson of Sackville-West and the husband of the gardener Sarah Raven; together they live at Sissinghurst Castle. In his thoughtful book he explains how the idea of Arcadia fused a Greek vision of bucolic, pipe-playing innocence, with the evocation, by the Roman poet Virgil, of a beneficent, sensuous pastoral landscape, available to his leisured shepherds and shepherdesses as a setting for love and poetry.

In England, the idea of Arcadia reached its ripest expression in the Renaissance. It is there in the poetry of Edmund Spenser and Sir Philip Sidney, whose prose work Arcadia was written for his sister, Mary Herbert, the Countess of Pembroke, while he was staying at her idyllic country estate, Wilton in Wiltshire. Here the idea of Arcadia was embodied as much in the landscape and gardens of the estate as in the conduct of life — the apparently timeless feudal relations between the lord of the manor and his tenants.

Peonies reach globed perfection just before they fall apart. As we lie in a flower-bordered dell, the midges come to bite. By the time Milton published Paradise Lost in , our mortal link with this Arcadian vision had been broken. This highly wrought imaginative ideal was always fragile. And that, Nicolson notes, was part of its charm. The French Baroque painter Nicolas Poussin arranged his handsome shepherds in their golden landscape around a tomb with the enigmatic words inscribed, Et in Arcadia Ego , reminding us that even in Arcadia there is death.

Essay Alice Walker's In Search of Our Mother's Gardens -- Alice Walker

Gardens are at their most delicious at sunset, just as the light turns fiery and fades. It is no wonder that it is so hard to find the garden that matches our imagination. As soon as you think you have it, reality — often dark, sometimes predatory — kicks in. In , John Keats, sitting in a Hampstead garden, recorded that it was only while the nightingale sang that he could sustain the mental picture:. For gardeners wrestling with the brute circumstances of rough earth, weeds, insects, and weather, it is impossible to compete with the images conjured in poetry.

Yet these images are largely responsible for shaping our hopes of what gardens might be. I n the writings of the psychoanalyst Carl Jung, the Garden of Eden represents childhood — a period of life when nature and instinct give unstintingly. Gradually however, through childhood, adolescence and early adulthood, nature gives us over to consciousness and culture, effectively turning us out of the garden in a secular echo of the biblical fall.

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Every problem, therefore, brings the possibility of a widening of consciousness, but also the necessity of saying goodbye to childlike unconsciousness and trust in nature. Undoubtedly, gardens offer just such an opportunity for some people, where gardening is a kind of play — a chance to fashion an entire kingdom to suit your own unfettered fancy. For others, it is about a darker kind of subjugation.


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For the Victorian critic John Ruskin, gardening was certainly about the desire to return to his childhood and recreate the experience of Edenic bliss. Ruskin set about restoring the house and gardens. There had been formative visits to the Lake District with his parents when very young, which burned that landscape on his imagination, but otherwise he had grown up in south London, at Herne Hill and Denmark Hill, in houses with substantial gardens that he and his mother tended.

At Brantwood, Ruskin set about the combined strategy of creating a wild flower and rock garden William Robinson had just published his hugely influential book, The Wild Garden , in and importing the apple trees and cherry trees that he had loved in Herne Hill. As he succumbed increasingly to mental breakdown, Brantwood became his sanctuary.

As Andrew Marvell noted, the garden is like Eden because it also contains the serpent.


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Now I live surrounded by the garden my husband grew up in: without a car or much alternative entertainment, this garden was his world. As he works now on the paths and hedges, on reinstating beds and lines of view, he knows that he is digging down into those memories. He laughs that he spent his childhood being nagged by his mother to help her; yet now that he is free to make the garden entirely to his own pleasing, he has unconsciously set about recreating a more pristine version of hers.

This is very far from the square of paving I grew up with, but my response to it is governed by the yearnings first kindled back then. If not quite Arcadia, it has in muddy patches hints of bliss that go far beyond the sterile perfectionism of the show garden. Eric Schwitzgebel. Become a Friend of Aeon to save articles and enjoy other exclusive benefits Make a donation.

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Emma Crichton Miller is a writer and journalist. She writes widely about art, craft and design. Aeon for Friends Find out more. It is in these artistic expressions that Walker tries to get us to find our creative spirit.

For her mother it was her garden, as it is for my mother. Walker tries to get us to understand that our creative spirit is the knowledge of ourselves, and that our spirit is all we need to get us through life. Through art and other forms of creative spirit, we find knowledge; of what came before us and of the things that are passed on from our relatives.

Our creative spirit and knowledge is who we are and what we do. There is always room for us to grow through out our life time, to expand on the knowledge that we will pass down to our kids.

In a sense it is as though our creative spirit is our trademark. Whereas examining her work from a symbolic level, the title is plural, showing that there are other people that may be in search of the creative spirit that is passed down from generation to generation; although it may not necessarily be in the form of a physical garden. Through out her essay Walker shows us that it is not the diploma in our hand, but the spirit in our heart that will guide us to happiness in our life.

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In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens Essay

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