From Iceland — Just Sayings: “Að gera garðinn frægan”

Just Sayings: “Að gera garðinn frægan”

Published July 7, 2021

Just Sayings: “Að gera garðinn frægan”
Valur Grettisson
Photo by
Art Bicnick

Do you want to be famous? Of course you do. But here’s the real question: Have you made your garden famous? Wait—you don’t have a garden? No worries. It’s not required.

The Icelandic saying “Að gera garðinn frægan” literally means “to make a garden famous”. Colloquially this means, more or less, that you’ve already made it.

The phrase is widely used in the Icelandic language when mentioning Icelanders who have found success abroad, like Björk. One could say, “Wow! Björk has really made her garden in England!” While others might think that the ethereal songstress has perhaps taken up the very honourable and traditional practices of arranging English gardens, in reality, this has nothing to do with rolling lawns, charming trees or gothic castles. No, it just means that she sold a lot of albums there.

The phrase only becomes complicated when talking about people who are actually involved with gardens. Such as, there’s been historical confusion when discussing Samwise Gamgee’s success in destroying the ring in Mordor. Many a’hobbit thought that Sam had merely grown some lovely tulips around Barad-dûr when they heard that the good ole’ gardener had made his garden on the plateau of Gorgoroth, when in reality he had destroyed evil forever. But, you know, fame is overrated.

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