Thursday, 30 April 2020

Artisan Gardening. What the heck is that?

"What's that?" I hear you say.

"Bit pretentious, innit?"

You could be right... but this is a bit of a soapbox of mine, so get a cup of tea, settle down, and let me tell you all about it.

Being a "gardener", you see, is one of those annoying job titles that doesn't mean much: we need a new word for someone who gardens not as a hobby, but professionally, at a much higher level than mere amateurs – in the same way that a Chef is only another name for a cook, but while we can all cook, none of us would claim the title of Chef unless we had been trained.

Likewise, all you need to be a hairdresser is a pair of scissors and a comb: which is fine for simple styles, or if you like the pudding basin look, but if you want a complex layer cut, or advice on what style would suit your face, or you want to dye your hair, or perm it, or you need to look good for a special event, or you have problems with your hair: well, you go to a professional who is trained, experienced, and insured, don't you?

My friend Paula came up with the word Plantsmith which I think is brilliant: it gives the immediate impression of someone who works hands-on with plants, which is accurate, and has a pleasing overtone of Blacksmith, with echoes of years of training and experience, a level of aptitude, physical strength and a feeling that it is a life-long commitment.

And I've just started using the phrase Artisan Gardener, which came to me in a flash of light when reading a recipe which suggested the meal be served with “artisan bread”. I had no idea what they meant by “artisan bread” but at the same time, I knew EXACTLY what they meant: something hand-baked, non-mass-produced, more expensive than supermarket bread, possibly much tastier, made by someone with experience and/or training in bread making, someone with a bit of artistic flair, possibly using more expensive materials.

Isn't that exactly what I, as a Professional Gardener, am doing?  Yes, anyone can "do a bit of weeding" but there's a reason why people pay me to do their garden. Well, to be honest there are many reasons, and simply "not having enough time to do it myself" is rarely one of them.

I don't consider myself to be “arty” in the least, but gardening professionally does require a certain “eye” for colour and composition, an understanding of design, style and repetition, and being an Artisan Gardener seems to me to sum up all those added extras that I bring to a garden.

One of my friends objected, saying that she hated the word Artisan, along with Upcyled, Vintage, and Etsy. I know what she means, and I'd add “pre-loved” to that list. But in my opinion, people older than me accept the word “artisan” in its original meaning of craftsman: and those rather younger than me, the pre-loved upcycling crowd: well, they are the generation that my website is aimed at, so using a term which they are comfortable with should just bring me in a whole new wave of customers!

Personally I still can't accept “Plantsman” (or the horrible clunky “Plantswoman” which I think is far more sexist than just making “Plantsman” apply equally to men and women) as I think it is pretentious, and it doesn't convey that you actually work with your hands. I really dislike “Horticulturist”, for much the same reasons.

But Artisan Gardener: that, I can live with.

And if you want to see examples of what it means to be an Artisan Gardener, look for the posts which are labelled Artisan Gardening: there's a pane on the right-hand side *points*,  which starts with Buy The Book! (relentless self-publicity...!), About Me, Followers etc, and if you scroll down, you get a list of "Frequently Covered Subjects!"  Just click on Artisan Gardening and there they are!

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