Title: Gardens Are Us, We are Nature: Transcending Antiquity & Modernity
The history of gardens and that of humans are interrelated in the context of the environment. Gardens and humans are inextricably linked not only because the natural environment is man’s home in its true essence. This article captures this connection and maintains that man may have dwelt far from nature as urban dweller, but because of this link, traced thousands of years ago, man still tries to capture this connection by bringing the plants close to his home, within the confines of his house and the garden.
Writer’s Main Idea
Author Doolittle captures in his work the three interconnected notions on this issue and lists it as: 1) the antiquity of gardens, 2) combining archaeological data with ethnographic parallels and 3) the role of gardens in the changing spatial manifestations of agriculture. He states that gardens have evolved and so have human beings. Sauer maintains that men are inherently sedentary such that people stayed in one place as much as possible, moving only as needed. This sedentary living is important for domestication (Harris, 2002, 538 as cited in Doolittle). Around these houses, trash or “dump heaps” emerged and which became the forerunners of the garden (Rathje and Murphy 2001 as cited in Doolittle) and grew without any help or assistance. What made them flourish was the fact that these dump heaps that were regularly “irrigated” with household wastewater, garbage and human waste. Thus, these dump heaps became excellent places for mutation and hybridization (Illis 1993, 892 as cited in Doolittle).
The author traces the history of gardens and posits that gardens evolved out of dump heaps that emerged and flourished as a result of “unanticipated consequences” (Merton 1936 as cited in Doolittle). The absence of garbage disposal, toilets and sinks before and even in some areas today makes people question where “houses end and yards begin (Kent 1997; Oliver, 2003, 166-167 as cited in Doolittle) as well as where yards end and gardens begin (Kimber 1966 as cited in Doolittle).
Toilet and latrines were located near gardens (Kimber 1973, 10-11 as cited in Doolittle). The author points out that many people around the world have built outdoor kitchens located just outside the house proper. In some instances, field crops are first planted near the house yard or garden and then replanted out in the fields.
Seedbeds proliferate among native farmers in North America (Doolittle 2000, 108-116). The study of these seedbeds is essential in understanding relationships between people and plants, as well as gardens and fields. In Holland, for instance, emphasis is given in the production of bulbs (Meijer, 1996,35 as cited in Doolittle) that are transported to places all over the world. Flowers are just by-products of this cultivation and are actually considered waste.
Due to modernization, people have been alienated from nature and the Western modern concept of nature became different and separated from humans (Glacken 1967).
Today, urban dweller attempt to create a semblance of that condition of long ago, which was close to nature. People try to recapture this “natural” conditions. The author calls the result as “hybridized matrices.” He finds it strange that humans seem to fool themselves by thinking that gardens can be brought indoors because of the result of modernization were people have to erect concrete structures to live. Doolittle avers that houses, garden and nature are not as separable as men believe them to be. Today, nature has been culturally produced mainly for economic gain. However, gardens remain as an interesting topic because they relate to a wide variety of areas including “time, cultures, environment, gender and thought.” They reflect man’s thoughts and conditions and are worthy of study in more ways than one.
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