October 21, 2010

What separates a garden from a landscape?

I've been pondering the question of what separates a garden from a landscape.  The two are different in my mind.

A garden has whimsy and treasures.  You can see the gardener who has a passion for plants.  Gardens are intimately personal.  They capture spirit, love, and hope.  They are spontaneous and reckless.  There is no controlling them, and they capture you.  You fall in love with the garden and the gardener.

A landscape is controlled, measured, and stunning.  You can see the gardener in the landscape but from a distance.  There is an obvious passion for artistic beauty.  The chaos is calmed in a landscape.  You love to look at them and wish you had one of your own.  You fall in love with the simplicity.

I am a gardener.  The chaos in my head cannot be soothed with simplicity.  I need to meddle, but the two words still confuse me.

What do you think separates a garden from a landscape?  Where do you think you fit in?


  1. My front yard is landscaped, my backyard a garden!

  2. Very interesting question! There should be some gurus around who know the answer.I don't know the answer, but my place is certainly a garden.

  3. Love your definitions of a garden and landscape. I can see where gardens would just have to be most intimate and personal and landscapes not so much.

  4. I think you captured the definition perfectly. My 12 year old daughter and I drove around looking at drought tolerant "landscapes" this afternoon, some of which were stunning. Ideally, I would like our front yard landscaped and our backyard full of whimsy and recklessness (caterpillars on fennel plants growing wild and tomato plants growing out of the compost pile). Love your blog! Happy gardening, Jennifer

  5. haha, that can be a good delineation between gardens and landscapes. In my mind a landscape is wider in coverage than a garden, however it is somehow confusing too. In the graduate school there is actually a course titled Landscape Ecology and there are lots of landscape types; e.g. dessert, woodland, prairie, savanah, etc. On the other hand, a garden is a patch of land devoted to planting; as in vegetable garden, rose garden, herb garden, bulb garden, usually devoted to domesticated crops and near the house. I wonder if that makes sense.


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