Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Gardening Bliss By Any Other Name

“If by some miracle I ever did something the right way the first time I tried, I would have absolutely no idea why it worked. If the goal of man is knowledge, I am reaching my goal via the path of maximum mistakes.”
Ellen Sandbeck, Eat More Dirt

I sometimes label plants in my back yard. Most times I don’t bother because many who are called to my garden are not chosen to remain there long. I don’t know the names of many of the survivors, and furthermore, I frequently have no idea why they survive when so many others don’t make it past the first season, or even through their first night.

The point of gardening for me has little to do with creating the kind of yard that will impress my neighbor, the president of the local garden club. When her garden club people do their annual tour of member gardens, they rarely peek over the fence at my often abortive gardening results. This neighbor has a gardener she pays to busy himself weekly in her yard: trimming, grooming, planting and removing as necessary to attain the kind of garden-club look you might see in garden design magazines. Lately, the Garden Magazine Style tends towards an icy postmodern minimalist chic that "doesn't speak to me." Those GMS garden chairs pictured would kill your back if they tempted you to sit and relax, though god knows they look pretty untempting.

Seriously, how seriously can one take gardening when one doesn’t bother to actually garden? At this time and in this place, the more senior your garden club membership, the whiter your gloves, and the more translucent your bone china teacups, the more serious you are as a gardener.

Despite the fact that I don’t pass any of those tests, and despite my poor habits in labeling plants, at least I know the flower pictured above is a white rose, and that works for me. My own gardening goals are more directed at creating a place that induces my own tranquility and personal bliss, and are thus undeterred by failure.

By my measure, I am reaching my goal, my admittedly poor plant labeling skills notwithstanding.


Milla said...

that is SO right, and goes for lots of things in life, not just gardening. I am very bad at cause and effect (but blame chocolate, children and wine roundly). I did, however, used (did used??) to get a certain pedantic kick out of knowing the names of things, but they often escape me know and i find it matters little, but the essence of sort of knowing what to do remains. Things learnt or acquired young stand a chance of hanging on in my head. Interestingly, my word verification is patio.

colleen said...

I have just forced myself to sow some squash and pumpkin. This has taken me so long not because it is not a pleasure but because I knew I would have to undertake some labelling. It is a bore.

PS White gloves??? What is that about?