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Truly a garden is something special

Burst of garden ecstasy like this comes and goes. The true gardener will always be looking ahead for change and new inspiration. Donald McClure Photo

Donald McClure

What is a garden?

It is often a mid-winter dream that opens the portals of spring to the imagination.

A garden is your own personal canvas on which you express  ideas in colour, texture, composition and fragrance.

A garden  can be a plot of land,  a pile of rocks, an old birdbath,  a terracotta pot on your balcony – any place a seed can sprout or a root can gain a lifeline.

Fiesty male robin shows an iron will in protecting his share of the garden against all comers as the new season opens in earnest. Donald McClure Photo

Some gardens are crisp and orderly.  Others are wild and carefree. Some are simple; some are complex. All respond to the attention they get and the care they need.  All gardens provide us with lessons about survival and renewal.

Gardens are a living laboratory of nature at work in our lives.  They are places to study the seasons and to wonder why the orioles and the humming birds arrive precisely on the same day they did last year and one day earlier then they did two years ago.

Gardens are a place to explore the natural rhythms of life and to experience the emotions that come from the leading edge of creation.  Why is it possible that beautiful birds that have migrated thousands of kilometres to return
to our gardens end up their journey crashing into a window pane?   Perhaps we haven’t done enough to help protect such delicate, beautiful creatures from the hazards.

Gardens are a retreat – a place for quiet contemplation and renewal.  They are a source of taking and giving living gifts from neighbours and friends.  They are a method of building up knowledge and experience.

Gardens let us deal with stunning disappointments – and joyful successes.

They are also a place to remember the people who have come before.   A piece of broken Victorian pottery turned up by a trowel suddenly makes us realize that others have been here and faced the same challenges that we encounter today.

And there are the surprises.  The discovery of a nest of cottontails hidden in the rose garden or the family of killdeers raised on  the edge of the round garden make us smile at the meticulous and caring parents who successfully raise their brood  in such a public place.

Sometimes everything combines to give you a vista beyond imagination - such as this view of our garden not long after it was created. Times and conditions change and sometimes you must settle for more modest objectives. Donald McClure Photo

Gardens are a privilege.  Not every jurisdiction in Canada has the same fertile soil as the County.  Driving up to L’Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland a couple years ago we admired how resourceful the locals have been in  creating strips of vegetable gardens along the workable edge of highways.  There is a reason the island is called The Rock.

Gardening is dedication.  Success does not come without effort. Garden columnist Henry Mitchell in the The Essential Earthman  understood this phenomenon.
“There  is nothing like the first hot days of spring when the gardener stops wondering if its too soon to plant the dahlias and starts wondering if its too late.”

And of course gardening is the ability to accept that like day follows night, weeds will become an essential part of our lives for the balance of the season.   Sara Stein in an essay on her weeds remarked  “I appreciate the misunderstanding I have had with nature over my personal border.  I think it is a flower garden;  Nature thinks it is a meadow lacking grass and tries to correct the error”.

Gardens are many things but foremost they truly are a link with our destiny.  Anyone who has watched the return of plant life after the cold bleakness of winter has to feel a sense of optimism about our own future as well.

Perhaps by keeping our fingers in the soil we are reaching out and touching the universe itself.

Filed Under: News from Everywhere Else

About the Author: He can tickle your funny bone or tug at your heart strings. County people may know him as a chronicler of everything that happens (or should happen) in the garden, but his interests stretch across the natural world. His unique sense of observation takes in a wide expanse of living and may even point out some truths about our own condition as managers of the world around us. With Loyalist antecedents in his family tree his roots go deep into the Ontario countryside.

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  1. Donald says:

    Good morning Virginia. On a day like today — warm and the air alive with the
    breathe of new beginnings — it is good to have both feet in the garden. And as Geoffrey Charlesworth commented in The Opinionated Gardener in 1988 ” Perhaps the best hope for gardening as an art is that gardebning as an activity whose never-achieved aim is progress towards a never-completed worki of art” keeps us always coming back for more — season after season.

    Regards Donald.

  2. virginia says:

    We have a fairly large (ornamental) garden which is a source of great pleasure to us. Weeds are, of course, a part of what we see when we look out, but somehow our tolerance seems to grow as over the years! :)))

  3. Donald says:

    Knowing your own enthusiasm for gardening It am flattered by your comments dear reader! May the season ahead be filled with sunshine, midnight showers and wonderful, happy times! Donald

  4. kelly says:

    No one could have described our relationships with gardens and nature better Donald! What a beautiful piece and so close to the heart!

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