How Does Your Garden Grow?

Natalia Torija, Damn◦, August 7, 2023

It was a dry, smoky spring in New York City this year. The perennial blooms began peering out of fenced gardens, making their way through the dirt and the weeds. Thriving, flowering, beautiful as they are, these flowers are deemed undesirable to garden keepers. Mulch gets laid down to prevent such ‘others’ from invading the peonies, the hydrangeas, and the roses. Because the urban garden, as it has come to be known, is meant to be ornamental.


Nowhere is a garden more selectively manicured than in the institutions that care for and study plant science. Greenhouses and conservatories have been kept for centuries for the purpose of examining and propagating species from all corners of the world. The plant’s label usually contains its origin, kingdom and scientific name. But what can we find out about the ground in which it was originally rooted? And what about the land and the people who worked that land? Or even the people who care for and water the plants today? Rarely do we focus on the roots because we are mesmerised by the quixotic beauty of the garden.


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