Saturday, October 13, 2007

Noted: Nice things take effort

Our four-square garden, which takes a lot of effort

Kelvin Browne writes about gardening, architecture in homes section in one of the Toronto papers, the National Post. The following excerpt is from his column today entitled, Nice things take effort:

Regardless of how fancy the house or garden, owners today want them to be low maintenance. Like low taxes, it's assumed to be a right. Just as spoiled children want rewards without work (and, of course, the truly entitled get them), homeowners now require grandeur without lifting a finger.

The most obvious example is summed up by the stupidest phrase in the English language -- "low-maintenance garden." A garden is all about maintenance in varying degrees. It's about nurturing something to become what you envision it should be. There are gardens that require less nurturing than others, but the idea remains. You start somewhere and expect, with dedication or at least periodic attention, to arrive, a few years later, somewhere else. The garden needs you. You're complimented on your stewardship, not your ability to pay for hundreds of perennials. When someone says they like your garden, they like more than your choice of landscape designer; they admire how you worked with him or her to achieve something that matters beyond its ability to increase your home's property value.

The low-maintenance blight has examples indoors, too. Napkins, for instance. You don't expect young people in their first home or with young children to set the dinner table with linen napkins; it's admirable they'd even try to have you over. But after that, paper napkins are lazy. Hosts often let themselves off the hook by saying they're not formal types but you're nonetheless eating in a dining room, having multiple courses and subjected to the husband talking about how good, a.k.a. expensive, the wine is. It says either they're lazy or you're not important enough to bother with. Low maintenance rules.
We've always taken "effort" to heart in garden, but not so much in house. Time to take more care there now that we have renovated. You can read the rest of this excellent column here: Nice things take effort.