There’s an article in today’s San Francisco Chronicle discussing Stanford professor Robert Pogue Harrison’s new book, Gardens: An Essay on the Human Condition. From the article:
“This gardening ethic is very much in danger these days, where the emphasis on cultivation has given way to an emphasis on consumption,” says Harrison, asserting that a Stanford student would be more inclined to inspect another’s backyard on HGTV than to investigate one of the many campus gardens.
“We live in a kind of frenzy of consumerism which forgets that the true source of human happiness is not in the consuming but in the cultivation, in seeing something grow, or caring for something that is not yourself. And I don’t know how much we teach the young this ethic of caring for something that is not yourself. Or even caring for things such as an object or a plant. Consumption and cultivation are at war with each other.”
The idea of a “gardening ethic” is interesting. It’s true that lately I’ve been noticing gardens and plants more, and in turn this is making me feel more connected to my neighborhood and the natural world around me. There’s something to be said for literally taking time to stop and smell the roses.