From the gardener who tends a single geranium in her windowsill, to the one who supplies bountiful bouquets of roses to floral shops, many people have spoken many words about the art and skill and benefits of gardening. Let’s listen in to some of their voices, historical and contemporary, for in them we may discover the gardener deep within the soil of our soul:
Gardening gives one back a sense of proportion about everything – except itself. ~May Sarton, Plant Dreaming Deep, 1968.
The most noteworthy thing about gardeners is that they are always optimistic, always enterprising, and never satisfied. They always look forward to doing something better than they have ever done before.–Vita Sackville-West, 1892 – 1962.
My green thumb came only as a result of the mistakes I made while learning to see things from the plant’s point of view. ~H. Fred Ale.
I have found, through years of practice, that people garden in order to make something grow; to interact with nature; to share, to find sanctuary, to heal, to honor the earth, to leave a mark. Through gardening, we feel whole as we make our personal work of art upon our land.–Julie Moir Messervy, The Inward Garden, 1995, p.19.
Gardening requires lots of water – most of it in the form of perspiration. ~Lou Erickson.
As the biocentric view suggests, the garden prospers when control is balanced by equal measures of humility and benevolence. A balance is struck. Control, servitude, respect, imagination, pragmatism, an ecological conscience, compliance, and a certain measure of mysticism and altruism all meld together to provide nurturance. Try to separate the various aspects into their constituent parts – grant any one of them the status of fundamental gardening definition and one soon skews the entire process. Put them back together again in the service of the two-way street called nurturance, and we express the state of grace called gardening.–Jim Nollman, Why We Garden: Cultivating a Sense of Place, 1994, p. 106.
There can be no other occupation like gardening in which, if you were to creep up behind someone at their work, you would find them smiling. ~Mirabel Osler.
The home gardener is part scientist, part artist, part philosopher, part plowman.
He modifies the climate around his home.–John R. Whiting.
Gardening is a matter of your enthusiasm holding up until your back gets used to it.–Unknown.
Gardening is an exercise in optimism. Sometimes, it is a triumph of hope over experience.–Marina Schinz.
The best place to seek God is in a garden. You can dig for him there. ~George Bernard Shaw, The Adventures of the Black Girl in Her Search for God, 1932.
Science, or para-science, tells us that geraniums bloom better if they are spoken to. But a kind word every now and then is really quite enough. Too much attention, like too much feeding, and weeding and hoeing, inhibits and embarrasses them. ~Victoria Glendinning.
In gardens, beauty is a by-product. The main business is sex and death. ~Sam Llewelyn.
The greatest gift of the garden is the restoration of the five senses. ~Hanna Rion.
In my garden there is a large place for sentiment. My garden of flowers is also my garden of thoughts and dreams. The thoughts grow as freely as the flowers, and the dreams are as beautiful. ~Abram L. Urban.
It is good to be alone in a garden at dawn or dark so that all its shy presences may haunt you and possess you in a reverie of suspended thought. ~James Douglas, Down Shoe Lane.
Weather means more when you have a garden. There’s nothing like listening to a shower and thinking how it is soaking in around your green beans. ~Marcelene Cox.
God made rainy days so gardeners could get the housework done. ~Unknown.
I used to visit and revisit it a dozen times a day, and stand in deep contemplation over my vegetable progeny with a love that nobody could share or conceive of who had never taken part in the process of creation. It was one of the most bewitching sights in the world to observe a hill of beans thrusting aside the soil, or a rose of early peas just peeping forth sufficiently to trace a line of delicate green. ~Nathaniel Hawthorne, Mosses from and Old Manse.
Don’t wear perfume in the garden – unless you want to be pollinated by bees. ~Anne Raver.
Take thy plastic spade,
It is thy pencil; take thy seeds, thy plants,
They are thy colours.~William Mason, The English Garden, 1782.
It is a golden maxim to cultivate the garden for the nose, and the eyes will take care of themselves. ~Robert Louis Stevenson.
Gardening is about enjoying the smell of things growing in the soil, getting dirty without feeling guilty, and generally taking the time to soak up a little peace and serenity. ~Lindley Karstens, noproblemgarden.com.
I know that if odour were visible, as colour is,
I’d see the summer garden in rainbow clouds.~Robert Bridges, “Testament of Beauty”.
Unemployment is capitalism’s way of getting you to plant a garden. ~Orson Scott Card.
How fair is a garden amid the trials and passions of existence. ~Benjamin Disraeli.
Our England is a garden, and such gardens are not made
By singing: -“Oh, how beautiful!” and sitting in the shade. ~Rudyard Kipling, “The Glory of the Garden”.
You can bury a lot of troubles digging in the dirt. ~Unknown.
Garden writing is often very tame, a real waste when you think how opinionated, inquisitive, irreverent and lascivious gardeners themselves tend to be. Nobody talks much about the muscular limbs, dark, swollen buds, strip-tease trees and unholy beauty that have made us all slaves of the Goddess Flora. ~Ketzel Levine’s talkingplants.com.
On every stem, on every leaf,… and at the root of everything that grew, was a professional specialist in the shape of grub, caterpillar, aphis, or other expert, whose business it was to devour that particular part. ~Oliver Wendell Holmes.
Half the interest of a garden is the constant exercise of the imagination. ~Mrs. C.W. Earle, Pot-Pourri from a Surrey Garden, 1897.
No two gardens are the same. No two days are the same in one garden. ~Hugh Johnson.
We have descended into the garden and caught three hundred slugs. How I love the mixture of the beautiful and the squalid in gardening. It makes it so lifelike. ~Evelyn Underhill, Letters.
I think that if ever a mortal heard the voice of God it would be in a garden at the cool of the day. ~F. Frankfort Moore, A Garden of Peace.
Last night, there came a frost, which has done great damage to my garden…. It is sad that Nature will play such tricks on us poor mortals, inviting us with sunny smiles to confide in her, and then, when we are entirely within her power, striking us to the heart. ~Nathaniel Hawthorne, The American Notebooks.
Despite the gardener’s best intentions, Nature will improvise. ~Michael P. Garafalo, gardendigest.com.
Many things grow in the garden that were never sown there. ~Thomas Fuller, Gnomologia, 1732.
In order to live off a garden, you practically have to live in it. ~Frank McKinney Hubbard.
Give me odorous at sunrise a garden of beautiful flowers where I can walk undisturbed. ~Walt Whitman.
Gardens always mean something else, man absolutely uses one thing to say another. ~Robert Harbison, Eccentric Spaces, 1977.
Gardens… should be like lovely, well-shaped girls: all curves, secret corners, unexpected deviations, seductive surprises and then still more curves. ~H.E. Bates, A Love of Flowers.
I never had any other desire so strong, and so like to covetousness, as that one which I have had always, that I might be master at last of a small house and a large Garden. ~Abraham Cowley, The Garden, 1666.
One of the most delightful things about a garden is the anticipation it provides. ~W.E. Johns, The Passing Show.
Earth is here so kind, that just tickle her with a hoe and she laughs with a harvest. ~Douglas William Jerrold, about Australia, A Land of Plenty.
I have never had so many good ideas day after day as when I worked in the garden. ~John Erskine.
Green fingers are the extension of a verdant heart. ~Russell Page.
There is no gardening without humility. Nature is constantly sending even its oldest scholars to the bottom of the class for some egregious blunder. ~Alfred Austin.
It is utterly forbidden to be half-hearted about gardening. You have got to love your garden whether you like it or not. ~W.C. Sellar & R.J. Yeatman, Garden Rubbish, 1936.
A garden was the primitive prison, till man with Promethean felicity and boldness, luckily sinned himself out of it. ~Charles Lamb, 1830.
Let no one think that real gardening is a bucolic and meditative occupation. It is an insatiable passion, like everything else to which a man gives his heart. ~Karel Čapek, The Gardener’s Year, translated by M. and R. Weatherall, 1931.
Most people who possess anything like an acre, or half of it, contribute weekly to the support of a gentleman known as Jobbing Gardener. You are warned of the danger that he may prove to be Garden Pest no 1. ~C.E. Lucas-Phillips, The New Small Garden.
Tomatoes and squash never fail to reach maturity. You can spray them with acid, beat them with sticks and burn them; they love it. ~S.J. Perelman, Acres and Pains, 1951.
I appreciate the misunderstanding I have had with Nature over my perennial border. I think it is a flower garden; she thinks it is a meadow lacking grass, and tries to correct the error. ~Sara Stein, My Weeds, 1988.
It takes a while to grasp that not all failures are self-imposed, the result of ignorance, carelessness or inexperience. It takes a while to grasp that a garden isn’t a testing ground for character and to stop asking, what did I do wrong? Maybe nothing. ~Eleanor Perényi, Green Thoughts, 1981.
The kiss of the sun for pardon,
The song of the birds for mirth,
One is nearer God’s heart in a garden
Than anywhere else on earth.~Dorothy Frances Gurney, “Garden Thoughts”.
I don’t think we’ll ever know all there is to know about gardening, and I’m just as glad
there will always be some magic about it!–Barbara Damrosc.h
Gardening is civil and social, but it wants the vigor and freedom of the forest and the outlaw. ~Henry David Thoreau.
It is always exciting to open the door and go out into the garden for the first time on any day.–Marion Cran.
Gardening is a kind of disease. It infects you, you cannot escape it. When you go visiting, your eyes rove about the garden; you interrupt the serious cocktail drinking because of an irresistible impulse to get up and pull a weed. ~Lewis Gannit.
Gardening is any way that humans and nature come together with the intent of creating beauty.–Tina James, 1999.
When you have done your best for a flower, and it fails, you have some reason to be aggrieved. ~Frank Swinnerton.
Show me your garden and I shall tell you what you are.–Alfred Austin.
A garden really lives only insofar as it is an expression of faith, the embodiment of a hope and a song of praise.–Russell Page, The Education of a Gardener, 1962.
The best fertilizer is the gardener’s shadow. ~Unknown.
Gardening is a labour full of tranquility and satisfaction; natural and instructive, and as such contributes to the most serious contemplation, experience, health and longevity.–John Evelyn, 1666.
By the time one is eighty, it is said, there is no longer a tug of war in the garden with the May flowers hauling like mad against the claims of the other months. All is at last in balance and all is serene. The gardener is usually dead, of course. ~Henry Mitchell, The Essential Earthman, 1981.
What a man needs in gardening is a cast-iron back, with a hinge in it. ~Charles Dudley Warner, My Summer in a Garden, 1871.
Gardening is the art that uses flowers and plants as paint, and the soil and sky as canvas.