On closer reading, some of the painters at the Royal Academy’s current exhibition ‘Painting the Modern Garden: Monet to Matisse’ reveal a love of gardening for therapeutic purposes:
Claude Monet is quoted with ‘Gardening was something I learned in my youth when I was unhappy. I perhaps owe it to flowers that I became a painter’. It suggests gardening as a refuge, which blossomed into his horticultural and artistic obsession at Giverny. Paul Klee said ‘My mind is clearest and freshest, and I often experience the most captivating moods, even moments of great joy, when I am tending plants in the garden’. He describes with clarity the neurological effects of biophilia, how it resolves a muddy mind and elevates mood.
I have been struck by how unevocative textbooks are on describing the impact of gardens and gardening on us, and how hard it is for us to find words that accurately encapsulate the sense of being in a garden. So to read words of some great artists, who capture experiences of gardens has been a treasure.
Painting: Paul Klee, Pavillion Decked with Flags, 1927