George Harrison Used to Scold His Wife Olivia About Their Garden: ‘It’s Not My Garden, Liv’
George Harrison had to remind his wife, Olivia, that their extensive gardens weren’t theirs. The is no “I.” Everything belongs to God. So, the gardens of Friar Park are God’s too. George and Olivia were just stewards who kept an eye on everything.
George Harrison loved his garden
When George bought his bungalow, Kinfauns, he didn’t have a green thumb.
However, that changed when he bought Friar Park, a dilapidated Victorian neo-Gothic mansion in Henley-on-Thames, England, in 1970. It has 35 acres of gardens. So, George had to learn how to garden or let the grounds deteriorate further. Gardening became his escape.
“I decided to become a gardener,” George said in an interview, explaining what he did after leaving The Beatles. “I like the garden… It’s true, in the garden, you see all the seasons come and go, and whatever you do can affect it all. But at the same time, the flowers don’t answer you back. Don’t give you no trouble. It’s very nice.”
Later, all George cared about was his gardener. George’s son Dhani thought his father “was just a gardener.”
In Martin Scorsese’s documentary George Harrison: Living in the Material World, Dhani said, “He’d be like, ‘Get that pond, put it over there, and move that hill. Don’t like that hill.’ And the next week, it would be pond over there, hill over there. And it would look better.
“He’d garden at nighttime. He’d garden until midnight, and he’d be out there squinting because he could see at midnight, he could see the kind of moonlight, and you could see the shadows, and that was his way of not seeing any of the weeds and imperfections that would plague him during the day. So he’d be able to imagine what it was gonna look like when it was done.”
However, George wasn’t gardening for himself or Friar Park.
George scolded Olivia about their garden
In her 2017 introduction to George’s memoir, I Me Mine, Olivia wrote that her husband often scolded her about their garden.
Throughout the Harrisons’ 30 years together, “the issues of possession, attachment and identification with the ego were in the forefront of our awareness and George was always quick to point out that in reality there is no I, Me or Mine.
“George was relentless at keeping our spiritual aim true. We were only humans walking a long road towards our shared goal of enlightenment and I, for one, welcomed any reminders.
“In the course of a day I might have said, ‘Oh, your bit of the garden looks great,’ to which he would reply, ‘It’s not my garden, Liv.’ It was his way of reminding himself and me that we are pure Spirit, and that the Spirit is in ‘every grain of sand,’ belonging everyone and no one; that nothing is ‘mine’ and that the ‘I’ we all refer to must be recognised as the little ‘i’ in the larger scheme of the Universe. George was tired of the I Me Mines of this world, including his own, and had been from a very early age.”
The former Beatle liked connecting with God through nature
George felt that working in his garden brought him closer to God. His garden was his temple. Everything was perfect in the garden, just like God is perfect.
“Being a gardener and not hanging out with anyone and just being home, that was pretty rock ‘n’ roll, you know?” Dhani told Rolling Stone. “When you’re in a really beautiful garden, it reminds you constantly of God.”
In 2002, Olivia told Katie Couric on NBC that George “felt most at home outside — in the gardens of Friar Park.”
“You know, it was really nature that he loved,” Olivia said. “And I think he felt closest to God in nature. Yes, he loved it here. He found a place where he could get away from the crowds and this was it.”
Later, when Dhani visited Friar Park, he looked out at the garden. “He’s probably laughing at me,” Dhani said, “saying, ‘That’s what it’s supposed to look like.’ You don’t build a garden for yourself, right now — you build a garden for future generations. My father definitely had a long view.”
The gardens at Friar Park will last for future generations.