Gardening from the heart
April 12 2020
This is not a story of how to make a garden, no big plant lists, no instructions and above all, no shoulds and shouldn’ts. The only rules I abide by are mother nature’s and she’s a pretty liberal mistress. Pay attention to sun, shade, hardiness, wind, water and soil and then go with your heart. I am by no means the last word, I make mistakes, some things work and some don’t. I have experience, I am creative, and mostly I am a passionate gardener.
Gardening is an act of creation, of art, a human construct. Odds are, most gardeners are changing what mother nature had in mind for their site. That’s fine by me. My endeavors are as much a part of the world as those of a beaver building a dam or a bird building a nest. Granted, my efforts go beyond the utilitarian, but that is one of the great blessings of being human-the ability to deliberately create art-but this does not separate me from the natural world. In her book ‘Cultivating Delight’ Dianne Ackerman wrote of this in the most beautiful way. She wrote, “Look at the vocabulary of our earliest ancestors (visible in Indo-European) ther we find ‘kailo’ which has come down to us as ‘holy’ a word that meant the healthy interrelatedness of all living things. Not only were the gods in their heaven and all is right with the world, but humans, plants, and animals were woven together in the seamless fabric of nature. Touch even the fringe of that idea and all distant parts reverberate.”
We must not see ourselves as ‘other’, we belong in this world, each of our lives a thread. This idea is important, I believe it is the true reason why we need to take care of our world-it is a part of us and we are a part of it.
My grandmother, a South Dakota homesteader, planted, watered and tended a long row of lilacs across one side of the yard I grew up in. She lived to see her grandchildren play in that oasis on the prairie. Today, every time I plant a lilac, I think of her. She gave me a legacy whether she knew it or not.
Immersed in the private world of my garden, I live in a state of wonder. All the superlatives in the world can’t describe the awe I feel simply walking through my gardens, touching and smelling the plants, seeing the amazing array of colors and knowing that I (in collaboration with nature) created this.
There is a Japanese word ‘yugen’ which means an awareness that the universe is so profound that the emotions we feel when we try to contemplate it are too deep and mysterious to convey. They are, they really are.