|From In the Garden|
Are you the type of gardener who values aesthetic or function more?
Aesthetics as defined by Dictionary.com is: "having a sense of the beautiful; characterized by a love of beauty". It stands to reason a gardener who loves beauty might consider only the whole picture in a garden and want to see only the pretty parts of a garden. Don't we all?
Function as defined by Merriam-Webster is "any of a group of related actions contributing to a larger action; especially : the normal and specific contribution of a bodily part to the economy of a living organism". It stands to reason then that a gardener who values function might consider the mundane and working parts of the garden more important than the overall view of the garden.
When taking these two definitions into account let us look at the first photo of the crocuses. The leaves function as a great mulch and ground cover but are not as aesthetically pleasing as some other mulches might be. I choose to garden functionally and use pretty much only natural materials that are readily available and I am okay with the looks. Some gardeners would rather black shredded hardwood mulch that has to be trucked in and spread. I'd love black hardwood mulch all over my gardens but the leaves function just as well and since they are free and readily available, I have chosen to forgo the aesthetics of black mulch (and the cost) and will instead focus on the function of the free leaves. Both types of mulches work just fine and one is no better than the others-looks and costs are the only variables. Let's look at some other ways to garden functionally versus aesthetically.
As evidenced by the above picture you can see that both my compost bin and my potting bench are well within sight of the house and sitting areas in the garden. I could place the compost bin way back behind the garage where it would be out of sight, but then it would also be out of reach of most of my garden debris and therefore not a functional compost bin. I am undoubtedly a functional type of gardener. I consider mundane things and am not willing to work harder or spend more monty to keep the garden in an aesthetic manner that is beautiful to all. But then again, I think compost bins are pretty special, maybe not beautiful but special nonetheless and I don't mind it in full view. I totally understand not all gardeners will feel this way and those gardeners will strive to camouflage their compost bins or place the bins in an out of sight area.
Let's look at another case of aesthetics versus function. Everyone knows most peonies need to be staked or somehow secured in order to keep their lovely heads out of the dirt when it rains. My functional procedure is to cage all of my peonies in my garden. When the peonies are up and growing you cannot see the cages. They look very beautiful and are aesthetically pleasing in the above picture.
However, when the peonies are asleep the cages are clearly visible and are not such an aesthetically pleasing bit of the garden. I could pick them up and store them but I'm a bit lazy so I've decided to leave them in place. They are not pretty but they are functional, even when the peonies are not growing these cages remind me of where they are located. For me it is all about the functionality of the garden and all the small parts need to work together in conjunction with me and my capabilities-read less work. Leaving the cages in place contribute to the overall garden by contributing to my overall health in that I have less work to do in the garden. My gardening methods are functional though not always aesthetically acceptable.
I know the majority of gardeners would probably value aesthetics over functionality and that is understandable. Just watch HGTV on the weekends and listen to them talk about how ugly vegetable gardens are so they need to be placed in an out of way spot or camouflaged. How silly is that? As we get older it only makes sense to have gardens function in a manner that is easy to use.
Check out gardens on garden tours and you almost never see a compost bin or a pot or a tool or anything functional. All of these functions are usually hidden and out of sight so that the aesthetics are pleasing for the tour participants. I guess that is what gardens are all about but in my opinion, gardens need please only the gardener-me. I choose functionality over aesthetics any day of the year and that's okay because it is what works for me. Another gardener might think my garden could be improved a bit by placing those ugly old functional things in an out of the way spot but that is their opinion and we are all entitled to opinions. My garden works for me but it might not work for another gardener based on priorities and values: aesthetics or function.
Now that you know what type of gardener I am, what type of gardener are you? If it is hard to figure out (it should not be) just ask yourself this question, "Where is my compost bin....
in the garden.... ?"
Words and Photos Property of In the Garden Blog Team,
In the Garden