My trip to North Carolina was one of the richest horticultural experiences of my adult life. The Garden Writers Association (GWA) rocks! These are routinely some of the best conferences I attend, and if you have any affiliation with communications in the garden realm, you MUST join. Tell them I referred you!
Other than relishing the company of good friends, good plants, and good food, I attended GWA this year to present a lecture entitled “Gardening with a Y”. I’ve never felt better after a presentation and I owe that feeling to a room full of attentive, energized, and intellectually gifted GWA members.
But that message of enthusiasm, my so-called gospel of the goodliness of green things, didn’t end that Friday in Raleigh, NC. In fact I relate the spirit of gardening to an often cited Robert Frost quote: “It doesn’t matter what course you take. Simply hang around until you catch the spirit, or the spirit catches you.” How many of us began our gardening experiences in the stead of an elder, whether a family member or neighbor? How many of us can’t quite relate the exact sequence of events that took place after that, like a blur? We just know that we’re gardeners! The spirit caught us.
That simple stance might net the gardening world more newcomers than any high-class, big dollar marketing scheme ever could. Pardon the overuse of religious connotations, but spread the gospel, catch the spirit. Gardening is bigger than any one product, marketing campaign or person. As I wrote in the epilogue of my second (as-of-yet unpublished) book:
“Gardening is magnanimous, inspiring and a luxurious privilege that anyone can enjoy. Gardening is equitable after all. It’s in and through gardening that lessons on life become so clear. Seeds fail to germinate. Plants fail to grow. Then something forgotten blooms religiously with defiance that stares you in the face, petal on petal. These lessons seem more tolerable, controlled and learnable in the garden than things like failed marriages and job opportunities. One has to wonder if gardening was borne of a humble need for sustenance or a yearning desire to see beauty where it’s least expected. Maybe more as a parable to life.”
For so many people regardless of their age, gardening fills the void and becomes that parable to life. Now nothing this profound probably struck any of us the first time we picked up a packet of seeds at the grocery store or drug home our first transplants from a generous mentor’s garden. We were hung up in the lust for the quest, the fever to dig and plant and grow. But season on season, gardening for each of us starts to mean something more than it did before. You all know this. But what about your 12-year old, your neighbor boy or girl down the street, or your niece or nephew? If we can’t invest in the process and joy of gardening, we obviously can’t expect anything of value in return.
Today’s photo gallery: