I was fortunate to receive several gardening books for Christmas and two of my favorite books are about Gertrude Jekyll. Jekyll was a English garden designer and writer who did her main work at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries. She designed over 350 gardens and wrote over 1,000 articles for magazines. My favorite thing about her (other than her famous herbaceous borders) is her philosophizing and musing about gardening. She sees gardens and gardening as a tremendous source of pleasure and hope:
“A garden is a grand teacher. It teaches patience and careful watchfulness; it teaches industry and thrift; above all it teaches entire trust”.
I have read time and time again and believe it firmly that a garden is hope.
When you plant a garden, you are investing in the future. You are creating a promise of future beauty and/or nourishment.
So that is my theme for the New Year. Hope.
I used to carpool to work with an extremely thoughtful teacher. He drove a beat up old car that leaked when it rained so if you had the back seat, you had to wear boots. He smoked a pipe and ran through every red light in the 20 minute drive from Newton to Lexington. (Well, it was Massachusetts so red lights really do not count – they are a suggestion.) Occasionally, he would chew on his pipe and offer a profound observation. One day in the spring, he said “Ever notice how little old ladies always buy annuals?” I have often thought about that statement and have determined that this old lady will continue to plant perennials and shrubs. You must have hope and faith that there is a bright and shining future ahead for plants and people alike. Hope.
I have decided to make some gardening resolutions this year. It is certainly more cheerful than the usual “lose ten pounds” or this year “lose the Covid 15 pounds.” (It is difficult to binge watch the Great British Baking Show without eating.)
Resolution 1 - As you remember from a previous post, I am a plunker. I tend to plant one little plant here and one little plant there. I will work hard at over coming this “plant plunker syndrome.” I will purchase multiples of each variety and plant them in a sweep or block for maximum impact.
Resolution 2 - I will try to use more native plants like Rattlesnake Master (Eryngium yuccifolia), ironweed (Vernonia noveboracensis), and Narrowleaf sunflower (Helianthus augustifolia).
Resolution 3 - Gertrude Jekyll wrote that if a plant doesn’t please you or makes you feel guilty because it has not thrived, get rid of it. That may make her the Marie Kondo of gardening. If I have a plant that does not give me “joy,” I will not lay hands on it and thank it, but will ruthlessly pull it out and compost it. If I have tried and it has died, I will not feel guilty.
Resolution 4 – I will try to get out more to just enjoy my garden and do a walk about.
Another quote from Gertrude Jekyll “The purpose of a garden is to give its owner the best and highest earthly pleasure.
May your gardens give you hope and pleasure this year.