Gardens and wilderness in ‘The Man who Went too Far’ by E. F. Benson and ‘The Man whom the Trees Loved’ by Algernon Blackwood
This chapter looks at un-easy and disrupted gardens in the supernatural stories ‘The Man who Went too Far’ by E. F. Benson and ‘The Man whom the Trees Loved’ by Algernon Blackwood. Both tales feature gardens that lie in the heart of the New Forest in Hampshire with the wilderness of the Forest at their borders, and each follows the fate of a man who ‘goes too far’ in his desire to become at one with Nature. At the heart of the stories lies the garden: bordered, vivid, beautiful and supposedly safe. Yet Nature in both tales does not recognise or respect human attempts at demarcation between the wild and the civilised, the nonhuman and the human. Both Benson and Blackwood break down these artificial binaries, showing the aliveness of Nature, be it roaring ‘further out’ in the wild forest or subtly (and perhaps slyly) residing in the ordered flowerbeds of the garden.