Musings on what it’s all about — for those who dig it.
Although it amounts to preaching to the choir, herewith a compendium of thoughts from gardeners who seem to grasp what it’s all about. Let us all get psyched up for the coming garden year!
If some expressions resonate more than others with various reader/gardeners, all contain a seed of reality, expressed poetically or more pragmatically. So, why garden? It is tempting to simply say that one gardens because he/she can’t help it. Is it genetic? Sometimes yea, sometimes nay. Well, what is the sweet mystery
then? Here follow several observations of devotees from the recent and distant past. "If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.” Who had the nerve to make such a bald pronouncement? Why, Cicero of course.
Bertrand Russell, 1872-1970, philosopher, mathematician and author: “I’ve made an odd discovery. Every time I talk to a savant I feel quite sure that happiness is no longer a possibility. Yet when I talk with my gardener, I’m convinced of the opposite.”
Mirabel Osler, contemporary English garden writer: “There can be no other occupation like gardening in which, if you were to creep up behind someone at their work, you would find them smiling.”
Luis Barragan, 1902-1988, Mexican architect, landscape architect: (Fernand) “Bac was a dreamer, a poet. From him I learned that gardens can be bewitched, enchanted and shelter the great sum of serenity at man’s disposal.”
Thomas D. Church, 1933-1977, American landscape architect and author: “Gardens are made to sit in.”
Thomas Jefferson, 1743-1826: “No occupation is so delightful to me as the culture of the earth”; and “Though an old man, I am but a young gardener.
Gertrude Jekyll, 1843-1932, English gardener and author: “I hold the firm belief that the purpose of a garden is to give happiness and repose of mind”; and “It can never be repeated too often … where some kind of beauty is aimed at, the very best effects are made by the simplest means. A confused and crowded composition is a fault in any picture.”
Leonardo da Vinci, 1452-1519: “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”
Benjamin Disraeli, 1804-81: “How fair is a garden amid the toils and passions of existence.” Germaine Greer, 1939-: “A garden is the best alternative therapy.”
Iris Murdoch, 1919-99, English author and philosopher: “People from a planet without flowers would think we must be mad with joy the whole time to have such things about us.”
Sir Walter Scott, 1771-1832: “Nothing is more the child of art than a garden.”
Anais Nin, 1903-1977: “And the day came when the risk it took to remain tight inside the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” Robert Frost, 1874-1963: “A flower unplucked is but left to the falling and nothing is gained by not gathering roses.”
John Evelyn, 1620-1706, English diarist, author and gardener: “Be careful not to suffer weedes to run up to seeds: wherefore ply weeding at the first peeping of the spring.”
William Lawson, 17th century, English garden writer: “Pruning begins betimes with trees, and do what you list; but if you let them grow great and stubborn, you must do as the tree list.”
William Blake, 1751-1827, poet, engraver and painter: “The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way. Some see nature all ridicule and deformity … and some scarce see nature at all. But to the eyes of the man of imagination, nature is imagination itself.”
Unknown author: “Given the necessary resources, a good garden is not too difficult to create, but a really great garden demands a total commitment.”
Tony Schilling, 20th century, former curator at Wakehurst Place, England: “One should find out what grows well on a given soil and then grow plenty of it.”
Cason Callaway, 1894-1961, creator of Callaway Gardens, Ga.: “They come seeking many things including gardening inspiration, peace of mind and intellectual stimulation, but most of all, I believe they come in quest of beauty.”
Are you ready? Me too. Average last day of frost hereabouts – March 15.