Though the observation is hardly original, I’ve come to understand firsthand that, at its heart, gardening is the urge to add order and context to the landscape, to somehow harness and humanize the wild. In that sense, Mother Nature herself is the wisest and most patient of teachers. Now remember, dear, you can almost hear her say as you take in the sad little heap of shriveled stems and leaves, never plant your basil before Memorial Day. I’ve also come to believe that being out in nature and learning how to listen to its secret harmonies is one of the great joys and privileges life has to offer. Here’s a photo of my garden at pretty much its height this summer. However, as all gardeners will understand, it remains very much a work in progress.
Joe Eck and Wayne Winterrowd — master gardeners and authors of some of the most delightful books on gardening I’ve ever read — have written that you know you’re a true gardener when, in the midst of weeding or planting, you’ll look across your flower beds and say: “Next year, I’m going to prune back the spirea. Or, next summer, I’m going to plant some dahlias.” In other words, gardening is a life-long passion. One that you’re never too old to discover for yourself.