Issue #3: SHELTER

Shelter is an essential human need. How then is this most important concept intertwined with our relationship to plants? How do plants shelter us, and in turn, how do we shelter them? What does shelter mean in different contexts and cultures? Our content this month will explore the ways plants and humans orbit around the concept of shelter, in both a physical and psychological sense.

In my work as a landscape designer, shelter is a word I consider regularly. What is a garden if not a place of shelter and retreat? An enclosure to both stimulate and settle the mind, bringing joy and nourishment. The way these outcomes are created and their final physicality are many and varied, the most important thing, however, is the feeling a space evokes. Shelter is top of the list.

I write this sitting in the shade of the peach tree in my garden. This tree, with its broad and generous canopy provides both physical and psychological shelter. Without it, the space would be entirely different. It would feel exposed and open, somehow not as private or nurturing.

Of course, it’s not all beer and skittles. The tree’s leaves rain down on us in autumn, keeping us busy with the rake and compost pile. In spring we are blessed with its soft pink blossoms, and in early summer Ms Peach drops her unripe, rotten fruit-fly infested peaches, turning our courtyard into a fermenting mess of drunken miner birds and magpies. Oh, the peach tree! She exercises us, entertains us, but most importantly she shelters us.

Please join us on a shady stroll through January 2014, as we explore the concept of shelter and what it means to us and our relationship to plants.