Last week, I was lucky enough to have a visit from a group of garden design students at the garden where I work. Since it was first constructed, the estate has acquired more land, and the new areas are soon going to be developed. The students were asked to visit the new section of garden and come up with ideas for its redesign.
I have been taking care of this area since it became part of the estate, so I was on hand to answer any queries about the garden they might have. It was fascinating to see their reactions to the space and the kind of questions they asked. It offered me a unique ‘second opinion’ on the garden that I don’t usually have access to. When we try to see something from a different perspective, it can be as though we are seeing it for the first time again. Things become so much more interesting, with a whole new world of detail revealed.
This part of the estate has become home to my veg patch, compost heap and log stack. It comprises the more ‘functional’ and less ‘attractive’ elements of the garden. There is a large lawn, which I have ensured doesn’t get out of hand, but I don’t spend a lot of time on it. The students all noted it is now mainly made up of moss and weeds. What they couldn’t see was that during the spring it is transformed into a patchwork quilt of colour, buzzing with bees as the prunella, daisies and black medick start to bloom. In summer, when the formal lawns nearer the house are starting to flag, the moss means it still looks lush and verdant.
Yesterday, I shared the picture above with my friends. It is a close-up, taken of the same moss that has come to dominate the lawn. I thought it was an interesting image, showing the huge variation of colour and texture in something we often overlook. It struck me how by looking at the moss in a different way, what appeared to be a problem to one group of people, becomes an object of beauty when it can be viewed from a different angle.
It made me think about how our upbringing and social influences effect the way we think, creating our own unique cognitive biases. These are the cultural and social ‘filters’ through which we view and interpret everything in the world around us. We are often led to believe that many things in life are black or white, right or wrong. Unfortunately, as we learn from experience, it is rarely that simple. Depending on our perspective, it is quite possible for something to be both right and wrong at the same time, and it can easily alternate between the two over time. A ‘judgement’ can only ever created by a person making a judgment at one moment in time, and as such it will never be free from their influence.
By trying our best to see things from a different viewpoint, we can hopefully build up a more detailed picture, and perhaps gain a better understanding of exactly what it is we are seeing.