|The transient 'Dew Garden', Shropshire|
Importantly, gardens need not be grand or traditional to offer... intellectual gifts. Marcel Proust, for example, at one point kept a bonsai next to his bed: in his mind, it became “a vast forest, stretching down to a river, in which children could lose their way.” This principle works for pelargoniums in a courtyard, succulents on a desk: with a little patience and imagination, what’s small and seemingly banal can be extraordinary.
Ultimately, what unites the authors portrayed in Philosophy in the Garden is not any one ideal, but a devotion to the garden itself: to its philosophical fertility. Despite being bookworms and paper moths, they did some of their best thinking al fresco. (Even Jean-Paul Sartre, whose hero in Nausea was sickened by a chestnut tree.) And this rare collaborator exists, not in some utopian land, but in our own backyards, in nearby parks, or in a terracotta pot on a porch.
The garden is an intimate invitation to great ideas.If you're keen, do drop in to one of Readings' six shops, or buy the Book.ish ebook here.