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The fence.

I’ve been thinking a lot about boundaries over the last week.  Our new backyard fence is finally up.  I’m not crazy about the stark newness of this fence or its height.

The news this week has been full of reports that the population of Melbourne is growing by 200 people per day making us the fastest growing city in Australia.  As I’m still struggling to grow a meaningful amount of food in our backyard – I’ve been wondering if sharing yards would make vegetable gardening more productive – in short are subdivided backyards unsustainable?

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Contemplating the containment of nature - Installation in Preserving Jar

As often happens, while trawling through a bookshop today, the appropriate book showed up – Edible Estates: Attack on the Front Lawn, A project by Fritz Haeg.  What an amazing book – since getting home I’ve not been able to put it down.

The garden began behind walls a truce, a compromise, between human need and natural resource.  In most languages the word ‘garden’ derives from the root ‘enclosure’.  The garden walls protected human cultivation from the wild threats in the untamed expanses.  Now that a wilderness unaffected by human intervention no longer exists, the garden walls have fallen.  The enclosed, cultivated space protected behind the house is nolonger a worthwhile model.  The entire street must be viewed as a garden, and by extension the entire city we are tending, and beyond.  We have intervened on all levels of environmental function and with no walls remaining we have taken on the role of planetary gardener by default.”

I often think that the way we garden is a reflection of how we think the world should be.  Are we creating an organic utopian paradise, the ultimate cricket pitch or a controlled weed-free universe.  Are our gardens our personal vision of ‘Eden’?  I think that there is truth in the Epicurean ideal that all one needs to be happy is to sit in a garden with good friends.  Perhaps, in my personal ideal, boundary fences don’t exist?

I am however of two minds, as I imagine we all are, since there is a tension between the desire to share and be open and the need to order and contain my private space.

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See my beans standing all in a row - possible evidence of control issues.

I think this is an issue I will come back to after more thought.  I’d love to hear what you think?

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