Post-Truth Gardening

[Because of the way I was brought up, I have to precede the next sentence with, “Not to brag, but…”] Not to brag, but after re-reading old entries and exploring photographs from the past year, I must say the 2016 garden was just beautiful.

For example, clematis ‘Jackmanii’ bloomed magnificently in spring and repeated in fall.

Clematis 'Jackmanii'-4

Irises trailed colorfully throughout the borders.

Iris germanica (Tall bearded iris)

Iris germanica (Tall bearded iris)

Japanese Iris

Japanese Iris

Hydrangeas stood strong, camellias bloomed their hearts out.

Hydrangea quercifolia 'Ruby Slippers'

Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Ruby Slippers’

Camellia x 'Coral Delight'

Camellia x ‘Coral Delight’

Yet that my garden was successful had not been my perception this morning when I first started to reflect on the past gardening year. No, instead my mind leapt melodramatically to unfinished projects, battles with weeds, trees that died, despair at heat and drought or freezes and wet. I began to gear up to lament and apologize.  Why, I wonder, such a negative, emotional response?

I am struck by how my initial impression of having suffered through another twelve months unsuccessfully growing anything of interest clashes so distinctly with reality.

What changed my mind was taking time to browse the actual record set down in this blog, pbmGarden. I uncovered the truth about 2016 with its many wonderful gardening moments.

Narcissus 'Thalia’ (Thalia Daffodil)

Narcissus ‘Thalia’ (Thalia Daffodil)

In a post-truth* gardening sort of way, too often I allow seeds that fail to germinate or vermin that eat away at roots of plants to become the news, to become the defining stories of any gardening year. In my case these examples are legitimate and real issues, not made-up ones: yes, the grass turned brown during the hottest part of summer, echinaceas flowers underwhelmed, again this autumn Lycoris radiata produced foliage only and no flowers.

But in balance these topics do not deserve to distort the record against success. Why is it frequently whenever anyone asked I mentioned in reply the negative influences affecting the garden. Was the underlying reason false modesty, not wanting to appear to be bragging about a rich, lush features. Perhaps it was trying to manage expectations so when finally viewed in person it would look better than it sounded. For whatever reason, through repetition of telling, by the end of the year I had internalized  that the entire garden had failed.

I am glad I looked back today.

Euphorbia 'Ascot Rainbow' (Ascot Rainbow Spurge) and Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine)

Euphorbia ‘Ascot Rainbow’ (Ascot Rainbow Spurge) and Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine)

Though it may never be a showcase of great design, this little garden definitely has its moments. It suits my needs as an opportunity for dreams as well as for rational, reasonable and down-to-earth experimentation with plants. Modest as it is, I love it for its peaceful sensibility and for being a haven where songbirds thrive and gardenias scent the air, where sonorous notes resonate from chimes in the meditation circle.

Meditation Path

Meditation Path

Not each one of these nice things is noticeable every single day but the potential is always there for beauty, knowledge and amazement. I must keep that wisdom throughout the year, enjoying the garden as a place where hope continues to exist while the world passes through its inevitable and sometime ominous cycles.

In rejecting a post-truth reality I plan to dig deeper for authenticity, truth and honesty in the coming year.

*In a year marked by surreal outcomes in the US presidential election and the Brexit referendum, Oxford Dictionaries named “post-truth” 2016 word of the year. In a post-truth world reality is created and framed through the lens of emotional appeal rather than through intellectual discourse and honesty. The art of repeating talking points while ignoring contradictory evidence takes on more importance than truth and facts.

Originally I had planned to do a different type of garden review than this and perhaps I will write it in the upcoming week.  Meanwhile, thank you for being part of my gardening world. Good wishes for a Happy New Year!

2016 Carolina Inn Lunch

32 thoughts on “Post-Truth Gardening

  1. Donna@Gardens Eye View

    I have been thinking along similar lines as I find my strength, my voice, my truth in this new year….I am feeling more balanced and positive despite what is happening. And I plan to bring that outlook to my garden too. I always think of your garden as a slice of heaven…a meditative, spiritual place….maybe one day i will see it in person. Wishing you a most wonderful New Year Susie!

  2. Kris P

    Your garden is indeed glorious, Susie. Maybe the failure to acknowledge what’s good or even great is an aspect of what I’ve sometimes called the “good girl syndrome” (good girls don’t brag even when they’re entitled to). I frequently do the same thing when I receive a complement, whether it has to do with my garden, what I’m wearing, or work I’ve completed. I’m trying to teach myself to accept complements on their face value, rather than discounting the complement with “yes but” protestations or redirecting the commentator to something negative they haven’t noticed, but it isn’t easy – it’s a deeply conditioned response. It’s true that garden photos do help correct distorted perceptions – looking over some of my own photos, I also find myself surprised in a “is that my garden?” kind of way. Here’s to honesty with oneself in the coming year!

    1. pbmgarden Post author

      Well, Kris I must accept your lovely comment graciously without protest. Thank you! You’re right we are conditioned to try to deflect compliments and not look boastful. BTW I forgot to congratulate you earlier on completing your fourth year of blogging. Well done for documenting with your own honest and insightful manner.

  3. Cathy

    I completely embrace that last sentence about digging deeper Susie, and am optimistic for the coming year despite what is going on around us at the moment. We, like many others, have our own havens of peace and truth within our gardens and homes, and that is what will give us strength and hope. I always consider your garden a haven, with the meditation circle at the centre (which IS a great design), and I think you can safely brag a little! I wish you a very happy new year, full of gardening joy!

    1. pbmgarden Post author

      Cathy, thanks for your thoughtful reply. I think the little meditation circle will be getting a lot of extra use in the future! Happy gardening to you in the coming year, along with peace and joy!

  4. Marian St.Clair

    Susie, I’m glad you found more beauty and success in your garden than expected when you reviewed your 2016 blog entries. You have great empathy with flowers and nature and many of your efforts in the garden and in the vase show how creative you are. True, there is a lot of uncertainty in our country right now, but when we take a step back and look at the whole I hope we still find what you discovered in the garden—more resilience, flexibility, and fortitude than we see day to day. Most of what has happened in our recent past, in both the US and the UK, was driven by fear of change, but change will come. And both systems of government are built to deal specifically with that process; leadership doesn’t rely on a single person or a single party. It’s never bad to be skeptical and watchful in the garden or in government—those are the very attributes that create success. My answer to fear and concern is to commit more fully to the process, to be one who cares enough to invest myself. Apathy, not apprehension, is failure.

    1. pbmgarden Post author

      Marian, I’m comforted by your message and I think we’re lucky to have people like you committed to work hard to improve things. I agree apathy can’t be the answer.

  5. Brian Skeys

    Modest pride is well justified regarding your garden. The important thing is that it pleases you and areas like the meditation circle helps nurture the soul. Happy new year.

  6. P&B

    Happy New Year. I know you’v heard the phase “A real garden is never finished and a real gardener is a perfectionist.” Your garden is beautiful and I fell in love with your iris collection. I have to tell you that your blog made me search for and purchase more irises for my garden. I think we gardeners, both amateur and professional, continue doing one project after another because nature evolves and we are keeping up with her as best as we can.

  7. bittster

    All the best to you as well for 2017!
    I’m not too crazy about the idea behind ‘post-truth’ but I guess it’s become the new reality.
    Funny how critical our own view of the garden can be even when we hear nothing but good things about it. I sometimes admire the people who are so full of themselves that everything they do is the best.

    1. pbmgarden Post author

      It amazes me fact-checking doesn’t just settle some of these issues and that people can ignore the truth, but repeating the falsehoods works all too well.

      Fortunately gardening is open to everyone to get whatever pleasures we can from it. Hope the new year is a good one for you.

  8. Christina

    Although it is against all I’ve been taught too, I’ve come to believe that modesty isn’t a virtue. It is good to look through the images captured during the year, then we have to see and believe at least a little in the beauty we have created. Sometimes we want our gardens to be amazing all the time – but that is never realistic. The lesson to learn is to enjoy and appreciate what we have.

  9. rickii

    I am reminded of an old Phoebe Snow song that goes something like: sometimes my face is so homely that I have to turn away…sometimes my face is so full of class that I have to take a second look (paraphrasing, of course, cuz she made the sentiment rhyme…you get the idea). The eye of the beholder won’t lie and what I behold is creative, classy and inspiring.

  10. johnvic8

    I have been so impressed with your garden over the years I’ve been following you. 2016 was beautiful and I’m sure the next year will be even better.

  11. casa mariposa

    I think your garden is beautiful! We are always so hard on ourselves and are convinced people see the same deficits we do, when that is rarely the case. Maybe a blogging year without a single lamentation could be a goal for all of us. 🙂

      1. casa mariposa

        I’m already worried my dogs will poop in the garden right as the tour buses are showing up! We need to see our gardens as the pollinators do and then we’d realize what paradises they are. :o)

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