Many musicians who use recording technology as a compositional tool refer to their studios as gardens. It’s an interesting contrast to Motown, which was conceived as a factory, or Warhol’s studio, which was actually named The Factory.
Prince recorded a beautiful song called “Roadhouse Garden” to christen the Flying Cloud Drive Warehouse, a rehearsal space he worked in before the Purple Rain tour. The lyrics go like this:
This is the garden where emotions grow
Twenty-four feelings all in a row
(There were 24 tracks on the tape and recording console Prince used.)
Ralf Hütter, leader of the band Kraftwerk:
Brian Eno, perhaps the producer most famous for playing the studio like an instrument, gave a whole talk on “Composers as Gardeners”:
My topic is the shift from “architect” to “gardener”, where “architect” stands for “someone who carries a full picture of the work before it is made”, to “gardener” standing for “someone who plants seeds and waits to see exactly what will come up”. I will argue that today’s composer are more frequently “gardeners” than “architects” and, further, that the “composer as architect” metaphor was a transitory historical blip.
He says, of his process of making music:
…one is making a kind of music in the way that one might make a garden. One is carefully constructing seeds, or finding seeds, carefully planting them and then letting them have their life. And that life isn’t necessarily exactly what you’d envisaged for them. It’s characteristic of the kind of work that I do that I’m really not aware of how the final result is going to look or sound. So in fact, I’m deliberately constructing systems that will put me in the same position as any other member of the audience. I want to be surprised by it as well. And indeed, I often am.
Of course, musicians are not the only creative people to use gardening metaphors. In her book, The Gardener and the Carpenter, Alison Gopnik champions a kind of parenting which is like gardening, explained in this Guardian review:
When we garden… we do not believe we are the ones who single-handedly create the cabbages or the roses. Rather, we toil to create the conditions in which plants have the best chance of flourishing. The gardener knows that plans will often be thwarted, Gopnik writes. “The poppy comes up neon orange instead of pale pink … black spot and rust and aphids can never be defeated.” If parents are like gardeners, the aim is to create a protected space in which our children can become themselves, rather than trying to mould them.
After all, a “kindergarten,” as it was originally conceived by Friedrich Froebel, would be a garden of children, with the teachers as gardeners.
My wife has taken up gardening in our back yard in the past year, and observing her and learning more about it, I’m attracted to gardening as a metaphor — for parenting and my own creative work…