Like English people, Chinese landowners also like to pay Chinese gardeners to “torture” the plants. But instead of mowing the lawn and shaping the leaves, Chinese gardeners bend the branches of trees into very “unnatural” shapes, which takes even more efforts and planning than cutting leaves and small branches – a more obsessive way to “order and shape their landscape”. And like Jamaica Kincaid stated in “Alien Soil”, the people who do all the hard work in Chinese gardens were the poor.
During the think-aloud reading exercise today, Claire and I talked about Kincaid’s statement that “I have never read a book praising the cottage garden written by a cottage gardener.” There is my intrepertation of the sentence: for cottage gardeners, their lives are so involved and dependent on gardening that they see gardening as a burden they have to carry. When I was touring in the villages near the south borderline of China, I saw children picking up a kind of think grass near a breathtakingly beautiful creek. I asked if they could get out the way so I can take a picture. They looked very confused at my request. “The creek is here everyday. Just take your picture or come another day.” “What are you doing?” “We have to pick enough grass to feed the pig before sunset.” the children answered without even lifting their heads. The view, the creek, the other plantary besides the think grass they are picking are so indifferent to these children that they do not even understand my appreciation for the view. on The cottage gardeners, in my mind, must also be so buried in their work, that they have no leisure and intention to take time to gaze the cottage, not to mention writting essays about their appreciation for their workplace - the garden.