Last summer, I planted a budleja at the edge of our garden patio. It seemed to be happy where I had planted it, for it grew well. The beauty of this shrub is that it attracts butterflies, as if by some form of magnetism. It can literally be covered in around a couple of hundred butterflies, of all types, in an afternoon. I wanted to place some shrubbery at the edge of the patio, to add height of planting.
Speaking of shrubbery…
I know that many of you are fans of Monty Python. I thought I would treat you all to a scene from their movie ‘Monty Python and the The Holy Grail’ and yes, it is the scene about shrubbery!
A major shift in the focus of humanity.
It has struck me that we humans tend to plant low down. Have you noticed? We have to bend down to inspect a plant or flower and we, ourselves, largely tower over the offerings we pick up from our garden centres and plant nurseries. That somehow seemed so wrong to me, for a number of reasons.
I believe that, as humans, we have lost sight of our place in the natural world and, indeed, we have taken to exploiting the natural world; leaving it in a plundered and polluted state. We have an over sized sense of ego and our place within the world and that has cost us dearly, for we have lost a great portion of the respect for our planet that we once had. That we exist, largely, in gardens in which we are the tallest feature evidences our perspective that we are somehow bigger than nature.
The traditional, old belief systems; Pagan communities, certainly on the island of Britain, were nature worshipping cultures. As Christianity swept across the world, our ancient way of worshipping and respecting nature was replaced by worshipping a deity and the image of the man on the cross. Rightly or wrongly, that shift of focus from respecting nature to focusing on a deity and a messiah have moved us away from our respect for the environment and, therefore, our care for nature and wildlife. The shift in our consciousness from the world around us, has been a shift inwardly into introspection. I see this as a narrowing of perspective. We have somehow disconnected from the natural world, consequently.
How to shift the perspective back to nature.
In our garden, I make a point of planting only things that will be useable by creatures, for food or for materials for their own habitat building. My choice in the budleya has certainly paid off, for not only has it been smothered in the most extraordinarily beautiful butterflies, but it has also provideed the height that I was seeking. What is it about height, I sense you asking?
Simply put, when we plant the little flowers we buy in garden centres and plant nurseries, we are perpetuating the subconscious view of our amplified size. We are making ourselves bigger than nature. I have started planting large shrubs at various places in the garden, even though ours is a small cottage garden. These shrubs are growing and will easily reach a height over well pover 6-8ft. I will crop them at around 6ft in height but what I have created is a sense of us walking among the plants. I am no longer towering over all of the plants in our garden. Indeed, friends and family who visit our garden will increasingly gain the sense of walking or being seated among the plantlife and we will, once again, begin looking up at the beauty of nature.
This simple change to planting style transforms our relationship with nature, for it puts us back in a position of looking up in awe. It restores the idea that we are not bigger than nature, but that we are part of it and we are among nature’s inhabitants. I believe that this shift in planting style will help restore a healthy perspective and encourage a healthier relationship with the natural world. Humanity must re-learn to respect nature, to be in awe of it, to walk among it, rather than to tower over it and to shrink it.
Plant for height. Add plants that will gow at least as tall as yourself. Walk among them. Sit among them. Encourage more of this planting in public spaces. Help restore humanity to a position of respect for our place in the natural world.
What do you think?
(c) Dean G. Parsons. 2020.