Website 1.0

Garden V5.11.01

I wrote most of the text for this site about two — no, three months ago. I laboured over the words, drafting and redrafting. I wanted to have it all nailed down and ready to go. But now, as I finally come to build the site, the descriptions already feel outdated — they don’t quite capture where I’m at. I am already pruning parts and grafting on new thoughts.

And so, as I open this blog to begin exploring and sharing my new living, evolving design practice, I am contradicting my proposed approach at the very first step. I unwittingly fell into a fabrication process — the cultural default (and somewhat inevitable when using a templated site). I attempted to conceive the whole site before starting — to make a masterplan — when I should instead have generated it. I should have started with the simplest thing that could possibly work, tested it out and continued to adapt it from there.

A static site can’t help but feel like a snapshot of the past. In a month’s time my thinking will have evolved, my practice will have evolved, the world with which it exchanges will have evolved. You, dear reader, will have evolved. Time moves everything along. Old thoughts die and are replaced by new ways of thinking.

If we see the website as a process which records, distils and shares my current thinking and services with the world, it clearly needs to be a living thing. It should be a flow of ideas — a succession of my latest thoughts — both growing new and shedding old. Fresh leaves exchanging energy before reaching their useful life and falling away to decompose into nutrients.

And so a blog seems the most living format for the site. A time-based document with ideas time-stamped so that we can see how they have aged. The act of writing is a clarifying process. Some posts will be succinct and refined; others, like this, will be looser, more rambling streams of thought — making connections, capturing fleeting ideas around the edges.

Designing a garden is the same, of course. You can fabricate something — write a wishlist, have it designed, have it installed. You can even buy advanced plants to save yourself the wait. An instant garden, just like the plan… for a month or two, at least.

But a truly living garden is never static. Have a look at a photo from a year ago: how things have changed! You can take a snapshot, but in a month’s time you will not be able to return to that moment. Nor in a year. You can prune things back again but the stems will be woodier and the surrounding world (which you cannot prune) will be different… you’re busier, it’s drier, the kids eat more and no longer show interest in that expanse of lawn. You and your life will have moved on and your garden needs to be brought along on the journey.

Whether a website or a design for a garden, if it is to thrive it must be continually evolving — supported with an ongoing culture of observation, nurturing and adaptation. This is where my new practice comes in.

Here we are now and here’s where we’re going. Welcome!