I’m in the fortunate position of possessing a decent sized patch of garden, which – if I’m to gloss over the fact that I haven’t touched it since moving in over three years ago – has lain fallow for some time. It is not a pretty sight and you’d struggle really to give it the description of ‘garden’, it’s considerably less ordered and well maintained than would warrant that description.
To be fair, I’ve had a busy couple of years, and I’ve concentrated my efforts on making a start at redecorating and getting the interior of the house up to scratch, rather than apply my efforts to the outdoors. However, its time has come, and progress is not going to be at all rapid.
Successfully replacing a garden fence that not only suffered terminal damage during storms earlier this year, but had also apparently – and quite bizarrely – been erected a couple of feet away from the actual boundary was the kickstarter for what has followed.
Now, gardening is not one of those areas with which I’m inexperienced. Over the years, I’ve tamed and maintained at least five outdoor spaces, in various states of repair, and worked four allotments, so this latest venture shouldn’t have been a huge challenge… Unless, of course, the previous incumbent had been a complete plonker.
He was a complete plonker.
Clearly, at some point, the idiot had been introduced to the joys of weed control matting, and gravel – consisting of the sort of stones they use as railway track ballast. This he’d used copiously throughout the garden, including – inexplicably – a number of what initially appeared to be flower beds covering the lawn, but were actually rectangular sandwiches of rotten plant material, matting and gravel, all topped off with a thick layer of grass and deeply rooted brambles. It’s very slow work indeed, firstly clearing them of vegetation, followed by removing tons of stones – I am not enjoying it, and I know that if I don’t do a decent job of clearing the gravel layer – although heaven knows what I’m going to do with all that rock – I’m going to spend the next 10 years removing stones from the ground every time I plant, weed or harvest.
Not for the first time, I’ve wished that some RL undertakings were as simple and straightforward as they are inworld. No matter how extensive the virtual landscaping and gardening may be, it takes no physical strength or undue exertion, you’re highly unlikely to suffer from heatstroke, pulled and aching muscles, splinters, cuts and bruises; and you’re not going to be attacked by wasps or creepy crawlies. All very good, as far as I’m concerned. Then there’s the ease with which you can manipulate the scenery: Unlike the real world, where undigging a hole can be as difficult as digging it in the first place, and moving a plant, water feature or flower bed because you realise it just looks wrong in the place you’d originally planned, is usually not something that can be easily achieved. Such things are a simple matter in SL – and virtual gardening is more a matter of aesthetics than it is about being green-fingered, with most of us opting for the scientific approach of ‘plonking things down and seeing how they look’, rather than careful planning and preparation.
Conversely, that’s where things can also go badly wrong in SL… I’m sure we’ve all come across landscapes that really do look as if they’ve been thrown together, incoherent, inconsistent messes of undergrowth and features that follow no particular rhyme or reason and, frankly, look worse than if the ground had just been left bare and empty. Just as in RL, there is a skill to good landscape design in SL, and not everyone has it.
I would hope that’s a criticism that couldn’t be levelled at me: Although I may be a little whimsical in my choice of landscaping options, I do try to make things look good and aesthetically pleasing, and even my most enduring garden creations get the occasional tweak and reconfiguring when I feel something doesn’t look right – and that’s another huge advantage the virtual world has over the real one – once established, making changes is a doddle, not so in RL, as I can wholeheartedly testify!
Still, there’s no rush, and I’m sure I’ll get there in the end. In the meantime, if anyone wants a load of gravel for free… Please pop round, and help yourself!
Your leaves fade to brown
And i watch you die
In my torture garden
Under black sunshine
My Ruin – My Beautiful Flower