Lisa MyersPlanting One Another, installation view, Waterloo Art Gallery, Kitchener, 2019.
Photo: Dana Prieto, courtesy of Finding Flowers

Soil Memory, Seed Song: The Pollinator Gardens of Finding Flowers

greta hamilton
Gardens have a memory. The earth remembers plants that have bloomed and died, dropped seeds and deepened roots; flowers remember the birds, bees, and butterflies that have travelled with pollen on their tongues. Gardens hold the material histories of soil, the geopolitics of plants, and ecologies that unfold in messy, rhizomatic relation. As critical sites, gardens provide insight into the degradation of geologic, botanical, and animal life occurring in the wake of climate change.

Art Historian and cultural theorist, T. J. Demos, articulates the urgency of studying gardens: “To some, gardens might seem irrelevant in addressing our world of crisis and emergencies… But in fact they represent, and might be seen to respond to, the most urgent of global conflicts.”1 1 - T. J. Demos, “Gardening against the Apocalypse: The Case of dOCUMENTA (13),” in Decolonizing Nature: Contemporary Art and the Politics of Ecology (Berlin: Sternberg Press, 2016), 232. He suggests that within the context of monocropping, genetic modification, and the toxification of soil, gardens can be emergent and restorative counterpoints to agro-capitalism. Drawing on contemporary scholarship around soil history and ecological remediation, I situate the collaborative garden project Finding Flowers (2019 — ongoing) as a decolonial engagement with historical consciousness and as a practice in language learning.

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This article also appears in the issue 110 - Agriculture

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