August 27, 2010

I garden, he mows

Men and women do not create better or worse gardens, but I think they use different parts of the unconscious brain when they garden. It's all triggered by exposure to the primordial elements of soil, earth, rain and dust.  Well.  All I mean to explore today is how one man and one woman sharing half an acre garden differently.

The somewhat flip analysis is: "I garden, he mows".  I put in densely packed shrubbery and trees and fill the gaps with perennials.  He mows wider and wider swaths around them until I have jungles floating in grassy plains.  But it's not that simple.

He isn't the stereotypical lawnmower junkie of the suburbs, obsessively pursuing the biggest green carpet in the neighborhood.

Jim gardens.  He is knowledgeable about flowers and herbs, likes to compose and tend beds of all kinds of plants, and did so at our other house.  But in our new home I do all the planning, planting and tending because I now have a healthier sciatic nerve than he does.  With enough Tylenol, he can mow, and so he does that.

But his garden vision is always one of openness, view, clearing, and safety.  Shrubs can't be up against the house, they cause problems.  The encroaching weedy  meadow has to be kept at bay, cleared further and further to keep varmints at a distance.  Shade can't overhang the house too closely.  It's as if the primitive hunter part of his brain is telling him in his garden he must be on lookout for all dangers crossing our savanna.  Prospect.  View.  See what's coming before it gets you and eats you.

I garden to enclose spaces, give us privacy in our yard, and make me feel sheltered.  I like lots of tightly packed greenery, with curved paths and views to destinations (a garden shed at the convergence of the birch trees and pines is my latest plan).

I garden to create a nest.  Refuge.  Enclosure.  Keep the dangers of the savanna from eating us by hiding in the trees.

Humans need elements of both prospect and refuge to be in a comfortable place.  What we need is a way to see the wide view, but from a sheltering enclosure. Getting the balance right is the problem.

And so I wind up with the lonely tree pictured above.  It's a young katsura tree, originally planted at the very edge of the meadow, to tie our cultivated  plot to the unplanted, overly sunny, wild weeds beyond.  I intended an edge definer, part of a vignette of house + tree + field.  Jim then mowed 5 or 6 mower widths behind it, so now the katsura tree is standing in a puddle, stranded by itself in the open lawn.

Sigh.  It will grow, it will get very large in fact, and it will fill the lawn space.  It will be lovely.


  1. Ha! Our husbands should get together and go bowling. Or go mowing. Because they're the same lol. That's the reason our yard is so treeless. There wouldn't be ANY if I hadn't moved in.

  2. I think I am familiar with this story. Ha... I keep planting in our enclosed back garden. He whines there is no grass. I tell him to go mow the side lot if he wants grass to mow. He does it too. I like that enclosed feeling. I like my nest feathered with lots of plants. A friend (man) of ours said just this past weekend that he doesn't like the mountains because the feels so "closed in". I said that was exactly why I like them. We are all different. Thank goodness.

  3. Kyna, the mystery of male mowing really must be investigated :)

    Lisa, I think almost all couples have this same conflict!

  4. I like what you called male mowing. My father used to do that and that’s why out whole garden is very clean. There is only few trees out there but it really refreshing looking all the grass neat and clean.

  5. Melanie, thanks for visiting and sharing a memory.

  6. Oh. is your husband planning to make a golf course? LOL. Yeah, I agree with melanie. Actually, it is good to see clean,moved green grass in the garden and it is really relaxing to lie down on it. Well, I do it often in my granny's place since she has a wide grassy area in the backyard.

  7. I love mowed area! It is perfect for family reunions or in some family picnic. I used to lie down in mowed area when I was a child. We always play and roll over it. It made me miss my childhood.


Sorry about requiring code verification -- I experimented with turning it off to make commenting easier, and I got too much spam. Thanks for taking the time to comment, and to type in silly codes. I appreciate hearing from you.