Monday, July 20, 2009

Out and About in the Garden

Gardening is an ephemeral art. We take a spot that’s covered with crappy soil, construction debris and weeds and create a tapestry rich with beautiful flowers and health-giving food. We create fragrant Shangri-Las to soothe our troubled souls. We make rich, painterly borders knowing full well that if we decide to stop tending these gardens, Mother Nature will move in and take over. In a matter of a few years, your Shangri-La could be a field of thistle.
But that doesn’t seem to bother most gardeners. We are quite happy to live in tthe moment. Like the seasoned traveler, we have learned that it’s the journey and not the destination that is the real prize.
Many years ago I found my grandmother on her knees in the garden planting gladiolus. I asked her what color they were and she replied that she had no idea, someone had given them to her. Then she added, to my amazement, “I don’t much care for glads, they remind me of funerals”. When I asked her why she would plant something that she didn’t like, her response was “I’ve been stuck in the house all day and I HAVE to get my hands in the dirt”.
So it is with gardeners. We lust after plants that won’t grow in our climate and we spend hideous amounts of money on the newest and biggest and best. But what we’re really craving is just getting out and getting our hands in the dirt. We have a connection with nature that is a bit primal. Well, maybe a bit more than primal. We’re the only people I know who get REALLY excited over a dump truck full of manure.
Gardening is healing. When giving garden tours, I am often treated to a very sympathetic “Oh, what a lot of work you’ve had to do”. My standard reply is that it isn’t work, it’s therapy. And it is. I sleep wonderfully at night. I LOVE to weed. There is something very Zen about weeding. Not all weeding mind you. Wrestling a large clump of grass out of cold, sucking clay doesn't ring my bells. But pulling that same grass out of a bed that I have tended lovingly with manure and compost leaves me with a weed that departs the soil with a sigh, not a scrabbling scream.
So get dirty, revel in your green knees, and claim your moment of therapy in the garden.

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