Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Why 'Amateur'?

How amateurish! A dodgy Photoshop joining of two pix of my garden as it was around Christmas 2007. But here it is, all 9m x 7.5m of it.

So, first things first. Why 'garden amateur'? The garden bit is obvious, and the amateur tag is how I like to see myself. The word 'amateur' has come to be seen as the opposite of 'professional' by many people. To them, amateur somehow implies something a bit sub-standard these days. But as far as I'm concerned, I think amateur status in many things is way overdue for rehabilitation. Amateur is OK!

As a proud amateur, I prefer to see an amateur as someone who does something for the love of it, out of sheer enthusiasm, and from that seed an amateur shapes and grows a garden with real soul and personality. By contrast, a professional does things for money, and I do find far too many professionally designed gardens, when you're actually standing in them, to be soulless little spots lacking in personality, even if the design looks nice in the magazine photos. 

I do work in the gardening industry, but not as a gardener, a horticulturist or any sort of gardening expert. I'm a full-time sub-editor and occasionally a writer on topics where it's judged I probably won't cause too much havoc. Though I am a media professional, I'm very much the amateur in the garden. 

I only started gardening in my backyard after working on a couple of gardening publications for a few years. All the articles about gardening finally got me interested in doing a bit of it myself. I started off about 17 years ago as a complete novice and, as songwriter Paul Kelly sings it so well, "I've done all the dumb things"! Compared with the experts who write the articles that I sub-edit, I still feel like the bumbling (yet happy) amateur.

So, I do garden for the love of it, but my amateur tag runs a tiny bit deeper than that. I also love the old notion of the 19th-century amateur scientist. These folk were keen observers of the natural world, made their own semi-scientific attempts at research, and occasionally discovered something remarkable. They did it for love, for knowledge and perhaps with the dream of making a famous discovery, but largely they did it out of sheer enthusiasm without any thought of reward. So, very much in their spirit, I'm an amateur garden scientist, too. 


greengardener said...

I agree with you about many 'designer' gardens, they can lack "soul". But your garden looks like it has plenty of that. There appears to be much going on to provide interest with the prolific variety and the 'organic' appearance of it. It looks like a rewarding place to be in.

Anonymous said...

This is one of the best definitions of 'Amateur' I've ever read.
I don't mind so much being 'just' an amateur gardener and photographer now.

Thank you! :) ~ Marsha