Artistic Licence: Gardening

List of botanical gardens in Australia

List of botanical gardens in Australia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This was originally written in 2011, but as the planting season is almost upon us, I thought it apropos:

“But each spring…a gardening instinct, sore as the sap rising in the trees, stirs within us. We look about and decide to tame another little bit of ground.” ~ Lewis Gannett

As I write this, I am, for the fifth season, a gardener whether I want to be or not. My eldest son, Adam has decided to “tame another little bit of ground” as Gannett so poetically states, and in so doing, I become part and parcel of the package that is our garden.  Do not get me wrong, I love the fact that he takes such an interest in our little piece of land and tills a small chunk to harvest over the summer months and into the Fall.  The process every spring is not easy. Over the winter and early spring the parcel of soil allotted to the gardening plot has become overgrown and in great need of both weeding and the turning of soil. But Adam will attack the task, (with help from anyone he can corral into it) and the plot will once again be revealed and ready for planting.

As usual, we will have a preponderance of peppers– most of them of the hot, hotter, and out of this world variety, but a couple of bell pepper plants will be purchased in a nod to my rather delicate taste buds. We have in the past had great luck with peppers, so we plant what we know. Of course there will be a number of varieties of tomatoes—big ones and little ones for both salad and slicing, and should I get productive, freezing to make into chili and soup over the winter.

We will plant lettuces of purple, bitter, and leaf varieties, and the seeds for carrots and peas. This year we have found a surprise in our garden from last season—onions we knew we had planted but could not find in the fall. Cousins to our chives,  they  have taken the attitude of perennials. We will also plant a fresh crop of onions— thus making our garden ripe for  the creation of a great salsa.

My job when it comes to the garden is to keep it watered. Occasionally I weed, and happily pick whatever is produced and work it into my everyday menu. No great gourmet am I, but fresh vegetables just cry out for a little creativity.  Swiss chard has been a mainstay of our garden, as it grows plush and easily. I have done a little research and found some great recipes to use up this bounty.

According to Louise Beebe Wilder, “In his own garden every man may be his own artist without apology or explanation.” I like her sensibility about gardening, as it gives one a certain amount of freedom. As we have now been tillers of the soil for a few years, we have learned a few things, but according to the poet, Vita Sackville-West, “The more one gardens, the more one learns; and the more one learns, the more one realizes how little one knows.”  A universal truth.

English: Vita Sackville-West 1919

English: Vita Sackville-West 1919 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My parents had a huge garden when I was a kid. We had strawberries, raspberries, both red and black (I loved the black ones—one of my favourite pastimes as a kid was to pick the black raspberries off the bush and pop the juicy treats into my mouth), as well as every vegetable known to (wo)mankind. I believe there is a satisfaction that comes from producing food for yourself—a feeling of independence in a world so dependent on outside factors. Of course we are at the mercy of Mother Nature, but what we produce is not only “grown close to home” (a claim made by a grocery chain to lure us into their produce aisles), it is actually grown at home.

There is a little bit of magic to growing your own vegetables, something the “unknown gardener” reveals in this pithy observation: “More grows in the garden than the gardener has sown.” Now, I know that “unknown” was not referring to weeds, but I find Reverend Thomas Fuller’s words, uttered in the 17th century comforting:

“A good garden may have some weeds.”

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12 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I am always in awe of a tiny seed and what it can produce….nature is awesome.

  2. It is–and all those who have green thumbs make it even more awesome!

  3. You are giving me the gardening bug. It is contagious, you know. The weather has been so warm this year that I have already harvested my first rhubarb and placed it in bags in the freezer for rhubarb cobbler later. I, too, love the milder peppers and grape tomatoes. Enjoy your day and your garden as it begins to come to life. It truly is a magical experience.

  4. We had a bit of summer in March and now we are having a cool spring–supposed to warm up again midweek–so gardening is definitely going to be on all our agendas. I love rhubarb but it does not like me, unless it is in a custard rhubarb pie–the custard must cut the acidity or whatever it is my stomach does not like. But rhubarb really does mean that spring is here.

  5. Love your blog! thanks for reading mine today, so I could find you! another kindred soul found in blogland, yea!! cheers for gardening and for turning forty (plus a lot more :) SB

    • We can all use kindred souls–they are unfortunately few and far between. It is good we came across each other.

  6. I love the idea of gardening, and every year start out with great intentions, beautiful little raised beds with all sorts of wonderful things. The results don’t usually match my expectations but it is fun trying.

    • I know exactly what you mean–but we all start with “pure” gardening hearts.

  7. I guess I have a really good garden because I have lots of weeds!

  8. I particularly enjoyed the quotes and references you found – so pithy and true


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