Shared Pleasures: The Joys of Other Peoples’ Gardens

Gardening can be such a private pursuit. Hands in the dirt, we practice our care for plants and grow with our craft, just like the plants themselves. We spend so much time in solitary contemplation and action. In the garden, you are often by yourself but never without the company of plants.

Though gardening involves so much time spent quietly, there is nothing like the companionship of gardeners. There is a genuine warmth and richness to be found in meeting other people who love plants, who share the same feelings and experiences. It is always such a delight to meet gardeners and feel the kinship – from the shared understanding, love and learning.

We are taught so much by our gardens, and by other gardeners. We’re given so much too, by our plant friends and the plants themselves – the thrill and delight of the plant swaps and the gifts of plants, seeds and cuttings. Our gardens become catalogues of friendship and community; small landscapes of our relationships, which are then also shared with other gardeners.

Jac’s home garden and ‘botanical laboratory’ in Frankston.

There is little more joyful for a gardener than visiting someone else’s garden. Gardeners are curious – we all want to see what is behind that garden gate! I am not alone in going about my work in the world, going somewhere to do something – and snap – I suddenly see a pocket of garden glimmer from the front yard and beyond the fence, or sparkle from a balcony. The gardens of others beckon. Oh how I wish to sneak inside and see just a little bit more.

It is a magical experience to be invited to visit another’s home garden. A garden is an intimate space, an extension of a person’s home. It’s a reflection of the gardener; the plants they like to grow, their response to the land and the context they garden in. Their gardening journey and history are all, in some ways, captured in the garden.

It can be hard for us to articulate our influences in our gardens, as it can all just happen intuitively and subconsciously as we potter about. A piece of the gardener embeds itself within the garden. Their hands and their decisions have made it. The garden reflects this process.

I have never visited a garden I have not enjoyed and appreciated – at any scale, season, or time. There is always something so personal and unique about home gardens. There is intimacy and, perhaps because a gardener tends their gardens with only themselves and their household in mind, freedom. The experience of immersion in someone else’s garden generates so many different ideas. Different plants and communities of plants to try; different uses of structure and form; colour. It is endless – and such a pleasure to take home a little creativity and inspiration from other’s gardens to try in our own.

It is with these thoughts of generosity and sharing, that I am taking a deep breath and opening my garden to others on December 4th and 5th, 2021 with Open Gardens Victoria. It is very much a ‘point in time’ garden, and I feel like I am only just getting started – developing ideas and expressing them through the cultivation of plants. Gardens, to me, will always reflect the moment – a place in time along the great gardening journey. My garden is an expression of what I am pondering and where curiosity has taken me. It won’t be what everyone loves in a garden, but I truly love it so much. I invite you to visit my garden and share it with me.

Jac Semmler in her Frankston garden.

Jac’s garden ‘Heartland’ is open 4th & 5th of December 2021. Visit Open Gardens Victoria for more information.

The Images accompanying this post were first published as part of this profile on Jac Semmler – a content partnership with The Design Files.