This is the title of an article by Deirdre Mowat who calls herself The Compulsive Gardener. She is writing about the famous garden at Great Dixter in England. When you visit a long established garden you tend to assume that the layout and plants remain the same from year to year. After watching a documentary about the garden Deirdre learned that changes were made and some quite major ones.
Whilst watching a very good program on SBS television last week – British Gardens in Time – which featured Great Dixter garden in East Sussex, I was fascinated to hear the head gardener, Fergus Garrett, talk about all the changes he planned to make to various borders in the following winter, in order to improve them. In my early gardening days, I assumed that once a garden was made, it would be right forever, and I could sit back and just admire it, cup of tea in hand. But nothing stays the same in a garden over time. Great Dixter, of course, has seen huge changes in its long history: the ripping out of its revered old rose garden and replacement by a tropical display is one well-known example. As an editor by trade, it occurred to me that gardening in an established garden is a bit like editing – a process of tweaking to improve our plots from one year to the next.
Editing a manuscript can range from the proofreading level (correcting spelling mistakes, fixing punctuation) which to me equates to weeding and deadheading in the garden; to copyediting (changing sentences to improve their clarity or grammar) which is kind of similar to pruning overgrown plants or moving plants around in the garden that aren’t in the right spot for whatever reason; to major structural editing (where the whole formation of a document is reconfigured to make the intended communication more logical or coherent) which is like relandscaping all or some of the garden and rearranging the main elements! (Of course, in actual editing, the process has an endpoint, when the document is published, whereas in gardening, the process just keeps on going!)