Monday, February 08, 2016

The Space Between the Images

The Space Between the images

Former Wethersfield Men's Garden Club member Phillip Iannucci told a story about how it came to be said that gardeners have a “green thumb”.  Hint – it’s not a symbol of natural ability but rather the result of something more like horticultural Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
In his heavy Italian accent and mellifluous voice Phil explained how even when a plantsman goes out into his yard without his tools – wearing his “Sunday best”, and with nothing in mind other than enjoying the setting – he cannot help but reach out with his bare hand and snap off that single tiny twig that totally spoils his view – and in the process leak virescent sap onto his fingertips staining them with the gardener’s badge of honor.

Would anybody else even notice the offending slender little branch shoot?  Probably not.  But we plant people can’t see anything but that insult to perfection – until we notice the next one.

Gardeners are tinkerers – never quite happy with what nature provides.  We are dead certain that just one more flower in just the right spot can actually make the world a perfect place.  And then another.  And another. 

Say you are visiting a public garden.  Do you find yourself grabbing your own wrist in order to hold back the pruning pincers of your dominant hand?  Do you see what is there? Or is it what could be there if only they let you have a few hours to fix things? 

Have you ever been caught under the cover of darkness plucking weeds from your neighbor’s garden?  Or even worse, have you relocated any of their shrubs that run along the border of your property – or in other places?  Or secretly introduced “something special” into one of their flowerbeds?

Even haphazard landscape designers like me – whose idea of a strategic plan is to see a plant that needs saving (like Teasel from Christa Swenkyj’s about-to be-sold property), dig it up, and jam it into the first piece of available space that I see in our own yard – are following their own (largely unknown to them) private blueprint.

 Our daughter-in-law and son are both graphic designers – plus she is a gardener. Together they create comic books.  And he also teaches that craft at a University of Art and Design in New Mexico. Recently he was asked by a local newspaper to explain the difference between stories presented in that graphic form as opposed to other media.

“Prose and film offer continuous story construction, comics do not. The reader is a participant when reading a comic…filling in the images that aren't shown and designing a story uniquely theirs.”

Likewise we gardeners see the blank spaces in the natural world  – and endlessly create our own plots to fill in those gaps.  The rest of you just don’t know all of the fun you are missing.

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