Gardening has so many wonderful facets that harmonise with us women. Cultivating the earth, planting a seed, watching it grow and then blossom into something beautiful is a glorious similitude to the creation of life that we females were born to do…
By aligning with the natural affinity for nurturing and creativity ,gardening can be very empowering for women. This falls far and wide, whether you have a small shelf growing your own herbs or landscaping an acre plot. You (and mother nature, to a degree, also a strong woman!) are in control . This is your time, your space and you take what you need from that. It could be peace and solitude, a chance to unplug from the world and practice mindfulness. It could be the satisfaction of growing your own produce, knowing that you are contributing to an economic lifestyle. You may find the exploration of creativity in planting is liberating and fulfilling. Throw the colour around like an impressionist painter or create order in your garden and your mind by maintaining those neat lines. The choice is yours. This freedom has been embraced by women who used it to their advantage. At times when society was dominated by men, women fought back artistically and intellectually through gardening.
- Nina with her Grandmother
I have recently been led to thinking about the connection between women and gardening. My great great grandmother gardened, as did my grandmother and mother. I have flowers in my garden that have been transferred forty years ago from my great grandmother’s garden to my grandmother’s garden and then my mum took a clump for hers and now I have them. I should like to think that one day those delicate yellow primroses and vibrant crocosmia will have a place my daughter’s garden and this floral legacy shall continue as a tribute to the strong amazing women in my family. My great grandmother and grandmother are now passed but every time I see their flowers, I think of them and their spirits are kept alive.
- Nina’s Mother with Nina’s Great grandmother
Vanessa Bell, of the Bloomsbury Set lived at the turn of the century when women were required only to be wives and mothers ,trailblazed her own art and lived unconventionally in a group of alternative thinkers and artists, including her husband and her lover . She created a beautiful garden at ‘Charleston’ filled with her own sculptures and plants influenced by her travels.
Vita Sackville-West paralleled her journey into gardening and the freedom it allowed her with her exploration of her sexuality . She nurtured her garden at ‘Sissinghurst’ which is now one of the most famous and visited gardens in England as she allowed herself to enjoy passionate affairs with notable women such as Virginia Woolf. She threw conventionality aside both horticulturally and sexually. She thrived and so did her garden.
Germaine Greer, has produced an anthology of poems for gardeners and now writes gardening advice in the media. Flowers are a feminist issue!
Let us not forget the social aspect of gardening. Equally as enjoyable solo as with companions, it gives the opportunity to learn from others. I could spend hours idling away at a garden centre with my mum delighting at discovering new varieties, time in the garden with my mother- in- law who is my first port of call for gardening advice or swapping seedlings with neighbours over a cup of tea. Gardening can create bonds and as we look towards a brighter future where we can meet up again , these are more important than ever.
To nurture, to achieve and to enjoy are human inclinations and nothing encompasses these more than gardening .
‘She walks along the loveliness she made
Between the apple- blossom and the water-
She walks among the patterned pied brocade,
Each flower her son and every tree her daughter’
Vita Sackville-West ‘The Land’