A two level hydroponic garden with integrated waterfall. Photo by C. Robinson

Plant an Impossible Garden

By Cody Robinson

Personal gardens, when tended to at home with attention and care, can enrich a person’s life beyond the fruits that a harvest may bear. Of course, the value of fresh homegrown vegetables almost cannot be overstated, and the material worth of a garden can sometimes be substantial. But the personal satisfaction that comes from witnessing a plant grow day by day while the gardener guides it along is what makes the garden experience so enjoyable. In addition, the touch of nature and the fresh air that a garden provides to a backyard or patio space is more than just water turned to air, and Co2 turned to sugar, although those are great and enjoyable aspects too. No, the underlying experience of gardening, and being near plants in general, is one that is nearly ineffable, in that it touches that deep part of our primordial mind that is still mostly subconscious. Being in the garden speaks to the part of us that yearns for a time when we lived among plants, when we lived day to day off of the nutrition of their leaves, seeds, roots, and fruit.

With this deeper, soulful aspect of gardening in mind, combined with a basic scientific understanding of gardening fundamentals, one can then tap into an imaginational perspective that tries to break established norms when it comes to garden design and technique. Thus a further benefit of gardening is realized: the opportunity to unleash one’s creativity in inventive and clever ways through the idea of an impossible garden. Of course, an impossible garden only appears to be impossible through the eyes of garden tradition. Once a new and innovative way of gardening is carried out, an impossible garden becomes not only possible, but it pushes the limits of what our brains conceive as possible. Examples of impossible gardens in this sense include rooftop gardens, light-deprivation greenhouses, closet and bookcase hydroponic gardens, vertical variations on raised bed configurations, companion planting programs, living wall gardens, and many more. The core essence of these gardens is found in their aspirational creators, gardeners who can visualize the future of gardening, and realize their visions through the beautiful process of photosynthesis.