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discussion board _9 gardens_ retreat


									        As humans, it is our nature to meddle, whether with steel and concrete, or with pine and
monkey grass. In our immature attempts at gardening we try to emulate that which Nature has so
graciously provided us into a sometimes awkward assortment of flowers and shrubbery, both
native and foreign, to try and spruce up the environment we have most likely bulldozed and
destroyed during the construction of some structure. I find this type of garden, so common in
Suburbia as well as urban areas, to make me somewhat uneasy, as if I may not at first detect it,
but that something is assuredly amiss. A garden has the potential to be an oasis where one can
escape to for reflection, rest, and renewal, where man may have placed a few plants, but Nature
herself is the one in true control. We may tend the garden, manicure it, but at the same time we
must let Nature’s plan show through for it to truly thrive. Forster describes “the monotony of the
highway that oppressed me—dust under foot and brown crackling hedges on either side, ever
since I could remember” (729). This manmade highway, with its disregard for what is natural
and true, is what we attempt to construct in our daily lives, nothing we can do will ever reach us
to our highest goal until we choose to look beyond that which has consumed our lives into that
which is good, that which is untouchable, that which is found on “The Other Side of the Hedge”
( Forster 729). As our society rewards progress, “we do not admit in conversation that there is
another side at all” (Forster 730), that there is a side where one can be happy just to be alive. The
most effective, most regenerative gardens are those that conceal our efforts at grooming and
primping, where a sense of harmonious chaos is preserved, where we can enter the divinely
intentional “prodigal disarray” (Klinkenborg 721) and perhaps subconsciously recall an Eden
where all is as it should be.

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