In my mother’s gardens, the plants talked with her. Early each morning, she visited all of her green friends and they told her how they were feeling that day, what was bothering them (aphids on the roses, sometimes), if they were thirsty or their roots were feeling way too wet. Or if the tree above them could use a little trim because it was blocking the sun. That went on throughout her long life as a gardener, whether she had a small condo deck or lush acreage. She didn’t just observe with a trained eye, she felt how the plants felt.
My father was her partner in the garden. They could hardly wait until the weekends, when they would drive out to “the nursery” and come back with a car full of new plants, cedar for the never-ending fencing projects, bags of peat moss and leaf mold. And always more roses – there were never enough; my parents spoke their names as if they were members of the family. None of my little friends had parents who did these things. They all had gardeners, meaning men who came once a week in trucks.
The garden was my parents’ church. It fed their souls. My father often joked that he was a Druid, usually said while he was stripped to the waist, dripping with sweat and cheerfully setting out the latest contingent of boxwoods or azaleas or, of course, roses. That was my childhood. My parents were in a 75-year conversation with their plants. (These photos are from their last rose garden in Somis, California. Photography: Holly Rosborough)
So when I came across George Washington Carver’s quote I knew just what he meant. I learned it first from my mother and father. And in the years that I’ve been a garden book editor, I’ve had the joy of working with gardeners who deeply love the green world of living things and want to share with others what they’ve learned from their ongoing “conversations” in the garden.
Years ago, a dear friend traveled to India to meet with some people who were working to improve the agricultural practices of farmers there. At one farmer’s home a very young boy opened the door. When asked where his father was, the boy pointed to a field in the distance and said, “He’s out there, moving God around.”
In my heart I know that there is a great sacredness in engaging with nature. It’s a two-way relationship of the very highest order: loving and listening.
[shareaholic app="share_buttons" id="4643021"]
Be the first to leave a comment on this article!