what's real? what's natural?


The internet is full of photos of lovely gardens that are situated all over the world: the 'real' world, that is. Then there's another kind of garden, that you'll only find in cyberspace or in imagination. This is a kind of gardening that exists independently of the weather or wildlife.

UK surreal artist Richard Saunders created a topiary cat that magically has the ability to change size and shape, and crop up in all kinds of unexpected places. Some of these places are in the 'real' world. For instance, the garden the cat is in may be based on a photo, like the photo of Hall Barn in Beaconsfield, pictured above. Or the cat may actually be in a 'real' garden, like the image of it drinking from a lake in Painshill Park, Surrey, published on Saunders' Facebook page.

It is the talented Richard Saunders who decides on the garden or other setting for the cat. All we can do is access his web pages and admire, enjoy and comment.


But ... what if a garden is like a Tamagotchi? A Tamagotchi is a digital pet that needs to be actively looked after and fed as it grows from egg to adult. There are cyber gardens that grow and change and need to be maintained. I referred to a couple in a blog post I wrote way back in 2010, like iZen Garden. 


From time to time I update the pages on this blog that list the plants in my garden. I insert the new (hopeful) additions and delete the names of plants that have disappeared or passed away to compost. Surely this is a digital form of weeding? Weeding that I can do at night, or in the rain, or when I'm too tired to go outside.

Of course I prefer being outdoors and in 'nature' whenever I can. But I think we have to accept that virtual reality is becoming more and more prominent. I'm aware of this every time I use public transport and see people absorbed in their screens, not looking out the windows at the passing trees or cloudy sky. So if they're not going to have an experience of the 'real' natural world, maybe they can at least experience a digital 'natural' world?


Tamagotchis in garden, and Tamogotchis hatching

Comments

  1. If no-one would enjoy the digital natural world, we garden bloggers, would have no visitors to our blogs. I like the surreal cat topiary photographs. But I find the IZen garden utter nonsense. I can't see how that can make anyone feel relaxed. A real garden is a joy for al senses, no app can recreate that... yet.

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  2. I love the topiary cat in the photo at the top of your post but its appeal diminished when I realized that it was a digital construction. The work to create and maintain a huge topiary cat is much more impressive to my mind than the effort to create a digital image. Although I know that virtual reality systems are designed to make people feel as if they're moving through a scene, that still seems very different than the experience of actually moving through and interacting with a space. The real value of gardens in my view isn't limited to the visual experience of viewing a completed scene but rather the work put into fostering and influencing its development and its constant surprises.

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  3. Call me old fashioned but virtual gardens is a step too far, it may be okay for computer aided design but an image only satisfies one sense, what about scent and touch?

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  4. A digital virtual garden can be made easy. No maintenance. No weeding pruning watering feeding digging. No lost plants. Always kept in utter perfection, full bloom, seasonal colour. I'm rather fond of the topiary cat, perhaps because the artist is inspired by a fondly remembered REAL cat.

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  5. Good post! I remember when my kids had Tamagotchis, and had to take care of them all the time to keep them happy and healthy. LOL. Your new layout is fabulous!

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  6. The cat looks like it really does belong in that surroundings.

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  7. I think it's sad how people are so glued to their devices. I still enjoy the real world and talking to the people in it who are likewise not glued to a device. Enjoyed your phrase "passed away to compost."

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  8. An interesting take on cyber gardens....and really that is what blogging is, isn't it! I try to limit that cyber world finding balance in nature.

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  9. Thanks for the interesting comments, cyber-friends. I was being a bit provocative in this post. I also vastly prefer being outdoors, although we're all garden bloggers so we all do garden - related activity online as well as in the garden.

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  10. The other day I passed by a shop with lots of cat-inspired stuffs, from bedsheets to bags. I am not a fan of cats so didn't get any of those items ;)

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    Replies
    1. Hi Steph, I'm not a fan of cats either because they eat birds, but I do appreciate that topiary.

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  11. The virtual world can never replace the beauty of a real garden. However, the virtual world gives us the opportunity to see and share what other people have in their gardens or in their side of the world. This gives us a wider perspective, more inspiration, and more knowledge.

    Anyway, the cat topiary is amazing and surreal!

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  12. Thanks for the comment, Danny, I think you've captured the way both world complement each other.

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