A garden is a lovesome thing, God wot!

Rose plot,

Fringed pool,

Ferned grot–

The veriest school

Of peace; and yet the fool

Contends that God is not–

Not God! in gardens! when the eve is cool?

Nay, but I have a sign;

‘Tis very sure God walks in mine.

– My Garden by T. E. Brown

I am quite sure that Mr. Thomas Edward Brown had no idea when he wrote this ode to his garden that through his stretch to rhyme “rose plot” he would coin a term.

Godwottery (noun) has two meanings: 1. Affected or over-elaborate style of gardening or attitude towards gardening. 2. Affected use of archaic language.

“Wot” is an archaic term for a variant of “to wit” (to know), and Mr. T.E. Brown used “God wot” as a way of saying “God knows”. Moreover, it happens to rhyme with grot (his word for grotto).

Godwottery (not to mention Mr. Brown’s poetry) has been rather maligned over the years. If one uses archaic, or even out of fashion, words, one is mocked. Sometimes even shunned. And we all know what happens if one’s garden is filled with gnomes, sundials, and water features. (I have noticed an alarming abundance of pink plastic flamingos in the area.)

I am rather fond of archaic words, though I do endeavor to keep myself unaffected. And I don’t believe that my gardening style can be described as godwottery. While I certainly have a penchant for the more uncommon perennials, I do shy away from gew gaws one might find in the back of a sculpture park.

I wonder if Medusa was ever accused of godwottery, what with all those stone folks littered about her front lawn. I rather doubt anyone had the gumption to say anything straight to her face.

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