Month: May 2012

Michael Pollan Second Nature: A Gardener's Education Word Cloud 2

Pollan’s Second Nature: A Gardener’s Education, Part 2

Welcome to part two of the analysis on Michael Pollan’s Second Nature: a Gardener’s Education. In this entry, I’ll focus on my two favourite chapters of the book: Planting a Tree and The Idea of a Garden. The Meaning of a Tree In Planting a Tree, Pollan explores the fascinating and ever-changing cultural significance of a tree. Once again, his reflections come out of his horticultural adventures; the chapter chronicles his thoughts as he decides on the right tree for his yard. The act of tree planting prompts Pollan to delve deep into American history to explore the meanings people have come to attach to the tree: The Divine Tree: Native Americans saw and treated trees as divine spirits, only to be cut down in need. The Tree of Evil: Puritans despised them as symbols for pantheism, danger, and darkness. The Tree as a Weed: New England subsistence farmers regarded them as obstacles to settlement. To them, the clear-cut landscape was viewed as a sign of progress and civilization. The Tree as a Commodity: The …

A Landscape’s Story: The Nitobe Memorial Garden

With the focus on nature-culture relationships within the confines of the garden, I would like to share my experience at the Nitobe Memorial Garden at the University of British Columbia last week. A Japanese Zen garden can itself be interpreted as a narrative of change, revolving around the natural and human cycles of birth, maturation, growth, and death. (At least that’s what the pamphlet says!) Here are some photos and descriptions of my journey through the beautiful and meticulously designed landscape: “Each tree, stone and shrub has been deliberately placed and is carefully maintained to reflect an idealized conception and symbolic representation of nature. There is harmony among natural forms – waterfalls, rivers, forests, islands and seas – and a balance of masculine and feminine forces traditionally attributed to natural elements.” (Nitobe Memorial Garden website)  “Water crossings reflect different life stages such as marriage, spiritual growth, etc.” (Nitobe Memorial Garden guide pamphlet) “…the 7-storey pagoda adds an exotic beauty to aid peaceful meditation. The buddha carving suggests a teenager’s search for life’s meaning.” (Nitobe Memorial …