What is it to be a landscape gardener? What drives and inspires those who choose this job? A gardener works at creating and caring for outdoor environments – the work is creative and hugely rewarding, but also physical and challenging. A career landscape gardener works with, and in, the elements as part of their daily job. It is tough work and is not the most highly remunerated career, so it must be much more than just a job. To be a gardener, one needs to be fuelled with a passion for the natural world.
At the very heart of what we do at Auckland landscape company Second Nature, is a passion for the ‘landscape’. Our work connects us to the natural world – to rock, soil, people, the weather, to flora and fauna. A landscape gardener working here is in close contact with these diverse, but closely inter-related landscape elements. We create ‘gardens’ – these are a crucial interface between the natural world and human needs; the need for food and a need to feel a connection with nature.
The wilderness is nature untamed; we admire and are in awe of it. At the same time, it is monumental and, at times, threatening. The garden is nature controlled, redefined in a human scale, more ordered, measured and manipulated; made legible to the human mind. We cherry-pick natural elements that delight and interest us from natures palette – we select plants that attract us with flower, form and foliage. We compose them to create tableaus that mimic and reference nature but are, in essence, exercises in control.
Control can be manifest in the formal garden with its plants clipped and cut to desired forms. The floral garden where we marvel at the reproductive organs of the plant kingdom. The scented garden. The cultural gardens – Japanese, Persian, Chinese Scholars gardens, Renaissance and Mid-century Modern. Underpinning these human contrived landscape spaces remains this need for a connection with nature. Every time we marvel at the colours of a flower, delight in watching birds and pollinating insects doing their work, feel enclosed and sheltered by vegetation and gather food from our gardens, we are paying homage, and sub-consciously acknowledging, our ancient relationship with the natural world.