Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Radical Gardening: Politics, Idealism and Rebellion in the Garden. A Socialist Appreciation.

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Radical Gardening: Politics, Idealism and Rebellion in the Garden. George McKay.

“Social Historians hardly ever mention gardens and gardening and garden historians have little to say generally about politics.” (Martin Holyes)

George McKay’s book  puts gardening and politics together.

With limpid beauty.

It ranges from the historical origins of  people’s struggles over land, the nature of gardening, rights to parks, socialist  Utopian communities, the Blut und Boden Wandervögel  movements (very critically), Garden Cities, the Counterculture, Peace Gardens, Guerrila Gardening, to Allotments.

This is the book’s central theme:

“Radical Gardening is about the idea of the ‘plot’, and its alternate but interwoven meanings (there are three). Many of the plots we will explore are inspiring, and allow us to see how notions of utopia, of community, of activism for progressive social change, of peace, of environmentalism, of identity politics, are practically worked through in the garden, in floriculture, and through what Paul Gough has called ‘planting as a form of protest’. But not all—some are sobering, or frightening, for within the territory of the politically ‘radical’ there have been and continue to be social experiments and articulations that invert our positive expectations of the human exchange that occurs in the green open space of a garden.” (Extract from here)

Radical Gardening describes, sans fard, the garden as a place of liberty, and as a place where freedom is threatened. A place where liberty trees flourish and where the encroachment  of the exploiters menaces.

It is impossible to describe a book of such richness and depth in detail.

His grasp takes in Garden Cities, the fight to protest in Hyde Park, Rosa Luxemberg’s gardening in prison, the Kibbo Kith (forerunners of the Woodcraft Folk), the Counterculture journal Gandalf’s Garden, Findhorn, Peace Camps, and the Squatters’ gardens at Tolmers Square London (not quite so wonderful in my memory I must admit).

All in clear prose that shows deep research and familiarity with, perhaps the most important point,  growing itself.

Now with public space threatened by the ‘Big Society’ – which would like to turn over as much of the common realm to private (‘community’ ) oligarchies – Radical Gardening is a source of reference for all radicals and socialists.

As we think of this year’s planting a copy of Radical Gardening is a friend of great strength.

And of some of the purest pleasures.

Reviews here.

Written by Andrew Coates

January 7, 2012 at 12:45 pm

Posted in Capitalism, Culture, Greens, Left

Tagged with , ,

2 Responses

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  1. Nice. A lot of interesting gardening going in Detroit – saw Grace Lee Boggs talking about it on telly.


    January 7, 2012 at 10:59 pm

  2. […] 8.) Tendance Coatesy rezensiert Radical Gardening: Politics, Idealism and Rebellion in the Garden. A Socialist Appreciation […]

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