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Better Homes and Garden Porn

I offer as reason to toss aside the magazine Better Homes and Gardens the photograph you see here.

garden pornFrom the magazine’s web site comes this photograph of a flower bed in vibrant hues of green with bright flowers, next to a lush and tidy lawn, and in between them, a short garden wall consisting of two layers of flat stone laid on top of each other just so, curving gently.

Just so, any experienced gardener knows, it’s a load of bullshit.

What actually happens in an arrangement like this is that, first of all, most of the nation is in one of the most grave droughts in American history, so everyone’s gardens are filled with a lot of brown leaves and empty spaces – including in the lawns.

Secondly, the stone wall won’t be bright and shining as in the photograph. The stones will develop a patina and a layering of lichen or moss unless they’re regularly power washed.

Third, a short wall of flat stones such as this one will invite long-running grass roots to snake in between the rocks and into the flower beds, where they will become difficult to remove because parts of the roots will always remain protected between the stones, unless the stones themselves are pulled loose and flipped out during the weeding process.

Fourth, no lawn mower can possibly travel smoothly along that curving line of stone, so what we’ll really see in such a garden is a margin of tall grass or a collection of grass debris scattered on top of the stone as a consequence of the use of an annoying, whining weed whipper…

… unless the gardener is filthy rich and has a gardening staff to come along and clean the debris off the rocks, so that they look just so.

This photograph, typical of Better Homes and Gardens, represents a sanitized, fantasy version of gardening. It’s a set up, a kind of garden porn which, as with regular porn, a scene is meticulously constructed so as to excite its viewers through the creation of an ideal which is rarely found in reality.

Viewers of garden porn like Better Homes and Gardens come away from photographs like this thinking they can set up their own neat and tidy flower bed lickety split in a single afternoon, and then learn, after the first 30 minutes, that they’ve been had.

Real gardening is more difficult, and more rewarding, and more complex, than what’s shown in Better Homes and Gardens. The magazine I’d like to see instead might be entitled Actual Homes and Gardens.

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