Monday, October 29, 2012


Somehow this seems appropriate as Sandy bears down on us:

"I never see a great garden...but I think of the calamities that have visited it, unsuspected by the delighted visitor who supposes it must be nice to garden there.

It is not nice to garden anywhere.  Everywhere there are violent winds, startling once-per-five-centuries floods, unprecedented droughts, record-setting freezes, abusive and blasting heats never know before.  There is no place, no garden, where these terrible things do not drive gardeners mad...

So there is no point dreading the next summer storm that, as I predict, will flatten everything.  Nor is there any point dreading the winter, so soon to come, in which the temperatures will drop to ten below zero and the ground freezes forty inches deep and we all say there was never such a winter since the beginning of the world.  There have been such winters; there will be more.

Now the gardener is the one who has seen everything ruined so many times that (even as his pain increases with each loss) he comprehends - truly knows - that where there was a garden once, it can be again, or where there never was, there yet can be a garden so that all who see it say, "Well, you have favorable conditions here.  Everything grows for you."  Everything grows for everybody.  Everything dies for everybody, too.

There are no green thumbs or black thumbs.  There are only gardeners and non-gardeners.  gardeners are the ones who ruin after ruin get on with the high defiance of nature herself, creating, in the very face of her chaos and tornado, the bower of roses and the pride of irises.  It sounds very well to garden a "natural way."  You may see the natural way in any desert, any swamp, any leech-filled laurel hell.  Defiance, on the other hand, is what makes gardeners."

This from an essay called "On The Defiance of Gardeners" in The Essential Earthman, By Henry Mitchell (Indiana University Press, 2003).

My best wishes to all my gardener friends and gardens!

1 comment:

  1. Love isn't the only thing that can destroy a garden. Many a year the deer have decimated my gardens...making me almost give up gardening...until the next spring when new growth appears and the incentive returns to fight off those large herbivores one more time...successfully too!!! Here's to perseverance by all gardeners!!!