Archive for March, 2011

Patience in the garden

Posted by: Heidi

March 20th, 2011 >> my garden, Photos

Spring usually comes early where I live, but not this year. Until recently, colder than usual temperatures kept the ground cold and the soil too hard to work even when sunny days beckoned me out into the garden. From inside the house it sometimes looked like a perfect day to work in the garden but outside the wind was cold and the ground was still frozen hard. When warmer temperatures finally arrived, so did the rain and so I continued to wait for more favorable gardening conditions.

Not just at this time of year but all year long the garden teaches me patience. Throughout the winter I watch and wait patiently for signs of spring, taking heart at the slightest swelling of a leaf bud or the smallest tip of a sprout breaking through the ground. During wet weather I wait for breaks in the rain to get out in the garden to weed, transplant, prune and plant seeds. Then I wait for seeds to sprout, stems to grow, buds to open, flowers to bloom, fruit and vegetables to ripen, and then seed pods to dry and leaves to fall. Like so many things in life, you can’t rush the garden, everything grows at its own pace. And we appreciate its many rewards even more because we have to wait for them.

“It is cold
It is cold
I’ve had the feeling
At the heart and in the core
The roots of all things
But there’s a bud there’s a bulb
It will be blooming
To greet every new day that may come
Like the first of spring”

~Tracy Chapman

Cultivating wisdom in the garden

Posted by: Heidi

March 1st, 2011 >> Books


As I wait for the weather to be more conducive to spending time in the garden, I’ve been reading about gardens instead. I just finished a wonderful new book, “Gardening – Philosophy for Everyone: Cultivating Wisdom”, edited by Dan O’Brien, a collection of essays that cover a variety of topics from gardening history and architecture to the role of gardens and gardening in the work of philosophers both ancient (Plato and Epicurus) and modern (David Hume). This book explores the question of why gardens mean so much to so many people and presents some answers to why gardens have been so important in human civilization throughout the ages. The contribution of gardening to “the good life” is discussed along with many other kinds of meanings that gardens may have, from their representation of nature to their spiritual significance.

My favourite essay in this collection is “Gardens, Music and Time” by Ismay Barwell and John Powell. In it they argue that gardens are as much concerned with process and time as they are with place. Since Emmanuel Kant first classified landscape gardening as a sub-category of painting, gardening has been seen as a form of visual art. However, unlike paintings, gardens are not static. Just like music, gardens incorporate the fourth dimension, time. Music makes the passage of time audible and gardens make the passage of time visible. Gardening, painting and music, my three favourite things!

This insightful and contemplative book about gardening can be purchased here in Canada:

Gardening – Philosophy for Everyone: Cultivating Wisdom

or here in the USA:

Gardening: Philosophy for Everyone- Cultivating Wisdom

“In gardens we are both spectators and participants.”
~ Ismay Barwell and John Powell