Saturday, May 7, 2011
For Better Gardens
One of the real pleasures of gardening, aside from visiting one's garden and seeing what is going on, is reading and learning about other gardens. The first thing to keep in mind is that if one encounters anyone who professes to know everything there is to know about gardening, then one should rapidly extricate oneself from the situation. Because gardening is a process, and the love of gardening is a life sentence, and learning about gardening is never-ending. That said, one of my most inspiring encounters with garden writing began with a writer by the name of Roland Browne, who wrote a book called For Better Gardens. I have ready this book so many times. Some of the wisdom passed along: "It's not the humidity, it's the heat." and "Gardening is not so much a matter of green thumbs as dirty knees." And so much more. Then there was a writer for Better Homes and Gardens, and this is many, many years ago, and I think, maybe, her name was Kitty Simpson. But I can still recite her rule for knowing when it is safe to plant tender plants: "When dogwoods are in flower, when pecans hang their tassels out, and when the leaves on the grape are the size of a mouse's ear." Now how could one forget that? And there was a writer, whose name I did not record, but to whom I shall always be grateful. He said that every gardener loses plants, and the thing to keep in mind is that lost plants mean more space to try something else. In other words, accept what happens and make the best of it. Gardeners should, for their own pleasure, read everything they can about gardens, and just like in everything else, keep what is true for them.