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Gardening

  • ... there is a kind of immortality in every garden.

  • 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 lettuce and green beans.

  • The process of weeding can be as beneficial to the gardener as to the garden. It gives scope to the aggressive instinct—what a satisfaction to pull up an enemy by the roots and throw him into a heap! And yet, paradoxically, weeding is the most peaceful of any outdoor task.

  • [Radishes] are the one amateur crop to be relied on. Many are sowed, but few are eaten, except those first prompt miraculous test cases which the gardener wipes on the seat of his overalls and eats on the spot, with no condiment but grit.

  • Despairing of human relationships (people were so difficult), she often went into her garden and got from her flowers a peace which men and women never gave her.

  • In what other job can a person be inventor, scientist, landscape gardener, ditch digger, researcher, problem solver, artist, exorcist, and on top of all that eat one's successes at dinner?

  • There are no child prodigy gardeners.

  • One's own flowers and some of one's own vegetables make acceptable, free, self-congratulatory gifts when visiting friends, though giving zucchini — or leaving it on the doorstep, ringing the bell, and running — is a social faux pas.

  • ... I wanted no one lifting a finger in that garden unless he loved doing it. What if Fred had hired a man to dig those trenches and it had turned out that he didn't love to dig? Who could eat that kind of asparagus?

  • Working in the garden ... gives me a profound feeling of inner peace. Nothing here is in a hurry. There is no rush toward accomplishment, no blowing of trumpets. Here is the great mystery of life and growth. Everything is changing, growing, aiming at something, but silently, unboastfully, taking its time.

  • I love spring anywhere, but if I could choose I would always greet it in a garden.

  • If 'heartache' sounds exaggerated then surely you have never gone to your garden one rare morning in June to find that the frost, without any perceptible motive, any hope of personal gain, has quietly killed your strawberry blossoms, tomatoes, lima and green beans, corn, squash, cucumbers. A brilliant sun is now smiling at this disaster with an insenstive cheerfulness as out of place as a funny story would be if someone you loved had just died.

  • A gardener has so many enemies, from a quiet little aphid to a big blustering hurricane, there is so much ignorance and misinformation to lead him astray, that it is comforting to have one thing he can count on. Any one seed may be too old to sprout or inferior in some way, but it will never try to be something it isn't fitted to be. A man may study to be a surgeon when he should have been a shoemaker, a talented painter may spend his life trying to convince himself and his fellows that he is a lawyer, but a turnip seed will never attempt to grow into an ear of corn. If you plant a good turnip seed properly a turnip is what you will get every single time.

  • Gardening is all there is, while you're doing it.

  • Nothing, nothing, nothing tastes like a ripe tomato you grew yourself, eaten on the evening of a day so hot there can be no question of even a nip of spring or fall.

  • With work in the garden care and worry vanish.

  • Philosophy is inevitably learned in a garden.

  • True gardeners cannot bear a glove / Between the sure touch and the tender root.

    • May Sarton,
    • "An Observation," As Does New Hampshire ()
  • Gardening is one of the rewards of middle age, when one is ready for an impersonal passion, a passion that demands patience, acute awareness of a world outside oneself, and the power to keep on growing through all the times of drought, through the cold snows, towards those moments of pure joy when all failures are forgotten and the plum tree flowers.

  • Flowers and plants are silence presences; they nourish every sense except the ear ...

  • Every flower holds the whole mystery in its short cycle, and in the garden we are never far away from death, the fertilizing, good, creative death.

  • Gardening is an instrument of grace.

  • A garden is always a series of losses set against a few triumphs, like life itself ...

  • ... gardening is a madness, a folly that does not go away with age. Quite the contrary.

  • Gardening is certainly the next amusement to reading.

  • ... the gardens of our childhood are all beautiful.

  • The farmer and the gardener are both busy, the gardener perhaps the more excitable of the two, for he is more of the amateur, concerned with the creation of beauty rather than with the providing of food. Gardening is a luxury occupation; an ornament, not a necessity, of life.

  • The most noteworthy thing about gardeners is that they are always optimistic, always enterprising, and never satisfied. They are for ever planting, and for ever digging up.

  • But you, oh gardener, poet that you be / Though unaware, now use your seeds like words / And make them lilt with color nicely flung ...

  • Still, no gardener would be a gardener if he did not live in hope.

  • Neither a garden nor a gardener can be made in one year, nor in one generation even.

  • ... it is really astonishing how few colors are inharmonious when they are profusely massed and have green for a background.

  • Let everyone who makes garden plans frequently insert the letters C.P. in them as a reminder, the same standing for climate permitting.

  • Gardening has compensations out of all proportion to its goals. It is creation in the pure sense.

  • ... the trouble with gardening ... is that it does not remain an avocation. It becomes an obsession.

  • The successful truck gardener can never go out to dinner in the summer or spend a week end away, because his conscience tells him he has to be at home eating up his corn or packaging his beans for the freezer.

  • The fact is that gardening, more than most of our other activities except sometimes love-making, confronts us with the inexplicable.

    • Mary McCarthy,
    • "The Rake's Progress" (1981), Occasional Prose ()
  • Herb gardening has been compared to chamber music. Both are best appreciated in small places, for they have an intimate quality lost in a large hall or in a big garden. Gardening with herbs ... is indulged in by those who like subtlety in their plants in preference to brilliance.

  • ... you mustn't rely on your flowers to make your garden attractive. A good bone structure must come first, with an intelligent use of evergreen plants so that the garden is always clothed, no matter what time of year. Flowers are an added delight, but a good garden is the garden you enjoy looking at even in the depths of winter.

  • Firmness in all aspects is a most important quality when gardening, not only in planting but in pruning, dividing and tying up. Plants are like babies, they know when an amateur is handling them.

  • Walter would not tolerate an unhealthy or badly grown plant and if he saw anything that wasn't looking happy he pulled it up. Often I would go out and find a row of sick looking plants laid out like a lot of dead rats.

  • The garden admires you. / For your sake it smears itself with green pigment, / the ecstatic reds of the roses, / so that you will come to it with your lovers.

  • As I work among my flowers, I find myself talking to them, reasoning and remonstrating with them, and adoring them as if they were human beings. Much laughter I provoke among my friends by so doing, but that is of no consequence. We are on such good terms, my flowers and I.

  • I think this is what hooks one on gardening: it is the closest one can come to being present at the Creation.

  • There is nothing that is comparable to it, as satisfactory or as thrilling, as gathering the vegetables one has grown.

  • What impressed me most about English gardens was their generosity of spirit, an exuberant lavishness that could not always be contained within strict squares or rectangles. ... I discovered cultivated flowers that soared on trellises, curved along winding paths, tumbled over walls, popped up between stones on a terrace, clustered in hidden corners like gossiping friends at a tea party, and crowded each other to show off their colors in mixed borders.

  • Each garden has its own surprise.

  • Lyda was an exuberant, even a dramatic gardener. ... she was always holding up a lettuce or a bunch of radishes, with an air of resolute courage, as though she had shot them herself.

  • Gardening is an art, just as painting is an art, and it is not likely that two people will collaborate happily in creating [a] garden ...

  • I don't know if you know it, but there are two kinds of people in the world. One kind loves to prune and the other kind doesn't.

  • ... one of the most perfect and unfailing joys of life is planting. It is the creative joy felt by God ...

  • Perennials are the ones that grow like weeds, biennials are the ones that die this year instead of next and hardy annuals are the ones that never come up at all.

  • Potatoes are very interesting folks. I think they must see a lot of what is going on in the earth — they have so many eyes.

    • Opal Whiteley,
    • 1920, in Benjamin Hoff, ed., The Singing Creek Where the Willows Grow ()
  • ... I am hoping for better times. That's how you know us hapless gardeners — by our dirty fingernails and our absurd, unquenchable optimism about next year.

  • ... there is nothing like a garden to rest the soul.

  • May you have a good sowing / And a gallant crop; / May your weeds never begin, / Your flowers never stop; / May your radishes be bright, / Your new potatoes succulent, / Your leeks all gentleness, / Your roses truculent ...

  • [On gardens:] I think they're sanctuaries for the mind and spirit. ... It's easy to feel wonder-struck in a garden, especially if you cultivate delight.

  • I can spend two hours grubbing about in my garden, dazed with pleasure and intent, and it feels like five minutes.

  • ... there's little risk in becoming overly proud of one's garden because gardening by its very nature is humbling. It has a way of keeping you on your knees.

  • He gazed at the ground with the constantly renewed faith of a born gardener.

  • People in England who do not like gardening are very few, and of the few there are, many do not own to it, knowing that they might just as well own to having been in prison, or got drunk at Buckingham Palace.

  • Once the rains abated, my father's garden thrived in the heat like an unleashed temper.

  • You must remember garden catalogues are as big liars as house-agents.

  • A garden isn't meant to be useful. It's for joy.

  • I have spoken to plants myself, and if pressed for conclusions would have to say that those I threatened did better than those I — well, I wouldn't say prayed over, but pleaded with, cajoled. A rhododendron that hadn't bloomed for six years was flatly told it would be removed the following year if there were no flowers. Need I say that it has bloomed profusely ever since?

  • The kiss of the wind for lumbago, / The stab of the thorn for mirth, / One is nearer to death in a garden / Than anywhere else on earth.

  • 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?

  • Sooner or later every gardener must face the fact that certain things are going to die on him. It is a temptation to be anthropomorphic about plants, to suspect that they do it to annoy.

  • Gardening is one of the most spiritual, meditative, fruitful activities that any of us can do.

  • Planting for future people with sure hands / Is pleasure of the purest. Live and unfold!

    • Genevieve Taggard,
    • "On Planting a Small Lilac in Vermont," Calling Western Union ()
  • A garden is a human creation. It has to be thought of first, wished into being, planned for like a child.

  • To plant a garden is the chief of the arts of peace.

  • Azaleas were his special passion, and one of his most dreadful crimes was that on several occasions he had gone down with a trowel to the Botanic Gardens, and with the help of a fellow azalea-lover, a priest with a big umbrella, he had pinned down several azalea shoots with hairpins until they rooted; and again, with the help of his ally and the big umbrella, had dug these furtive treasures from the ground and carried them away under his coat.

  • ... marrows — alas! — are arriving in a steady stream at the back door. ... Oddly enough, the majority of people who grow them in Fairacre say, as they hand them over: 'Funny thing! I don't care for them myself. In fact, none of the family likes them!' But still they plant them. It must be the fascination of seeing such a wonderful return for one small seed, that keeps marrow-growers at their dubious task.

  • To lift and penetrate and tear apart the soil is a labour — a pleasure — always accompanied by an exultation that no unprofitable exercise can ever provide.

    • Colette,
    • 1928, in Enid McLeod, trans., Break of Day ()
  • If you want good roses, sharpen your knife and harden your heart.

  • ... much of gardening is a struggle against the fecundity of Nature.

  • ... gardening is something more than a pastime; it is a religion.

  • I thought I had finished with romantic adventures, but half-way through life and well past the age for losing one's heart, I was suddenly swept off my feet by a new love, a passionate, tyrannical, all-absorbing emotion: the love of a garden.

  • The worst of gardening is that it's so full of metaphors one hardly knows where to begin.

  • [Gardening] is a means by which you can attain many valuable hours of solitude without being thought unsociable.

    • Jan Struther,
    • "Upside-Down Reflections," A Pocketful of Pebbles ()
  • Gardening is not a rational act.

  • In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.

  • ... we have descended into the garden and caught 300 slugs. How I love the mixture of the beautiful and the squalid in gardening. It makes it so lifelike.

    • Evelyn Underhill,
    • 1912, in Charles Williams, ed., The Letters of Evelyn Underhill ()
  • ... gardening is a madness and a rapture.

  • Thus, gardening is an exercise in optimism. Sometimes, it is the triumph of hope over experience.

  • To create a garden is to search for a better world. In our effort to improve on nature, we are guided by a vision of paradise. Whether the result is a horticultural masterpiece or only a modest vegetable patch, it is based on the expectation of a glorious future. This hope for the future is at the heart of all gardening.

  • To counter-balance the natural humility of motherhood, I garden ... In the garden, more than any place, I really feel successful.

  • Gardening is so complex. I can only grow simple plants, like mildew.

  • O the green things growing, the green things growing, / The faint sweet smell of the green things growing!

  • To learn by mistakes in the garden is a very long affair; impatient youth has to wait on Nature's measured rhythm and work in tune with the inexorable pulse of seasons.

    • Marion Cran,
    • "If I Were Beginning Again," in Ferris Cook, ed., Garden Dreams ()
  • The love of gardening is a seed that once sown never dies.

    • Gertrude Jekyll,
    • in Judith B. Tankard, Gertrude Jekyll and the Country House Garden ()
  • A garden is to be enjoyed, and should satisfy the mind and not only the eye of the beholder. Sounds such as the rustle of bamboo and the dripping of water, scents and sensations such as grass or gravel or stone underfoot, appeal to the emotions and play a part in the total impression.

  • The ideal garden is one in which a collection of trees, shrubs and plants have been procured and allotted to the best space available and are so arranged and tended that they are seen to their advantage, each in relation to the other. Every plant, of whatever shape or size, should be chosen not only for its individual merits but for its power to enhance the charms of neighbouring plants by contrast or combination in foliage or in flower colour.

  • Nature soon takes over if the gardener is absent.

  • Gardens are the result of a collaboration between art and nature.

  • The eighteenth-century view of the garden was that it should lead the observer to the enjoyment of the aesthetic sentiments of regularity and order, proportion, colour and utility, and, furthermore, be capable of arousing feelings of grandeur, gaiety, sadness, wildness, domesticity, surprise and secrecy.

  • It's interesting to notice that all the creation stories start in a garden. I think if everybody gardened it could be revolutionary.

  • ... no garden is ever done, no more than a life is done until the last breath is drawn ...

  • 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.

  • To garden is a solitary act.

  • ... starting a garden is the beginning of making a series of mistakes.

  • ... we have learnt one thing the hard way; it is this: take other gardeners' advice on design, or accept their plants, only after you have seen their gardens.

  • Then there is the ... satisfaction of looking at pictures of gardens which you are absolutely certain, instantly and instinctively, that you do not want. Everything you see is hideous. They are the pinnacle of brilliant undesirability. ... Reading what some people do to their gardens is like struggling with another language; you can't imagine what they are getting at.

  • Architectural lines such as those from hedges, walls, paths or topiary are the bones of a garden. But it is the artist who then allows dishevelment and abandonment to evolve. ... How rare to see a real cottage garden. It is far more difficult to achieve than a contrived garden. It requires intuition, a genius for letting things have their head.

  • What this country needs is a recipe for something — anything — that lists zucchini as its prime ingredient.

  • A garden is a kinetic work of art, not an object but a process, open-ended, biodegradable, nurturant, like all women's artistry. A garden is the best alternative therapy.

  • The folks who their potatoes buy / From sacks before they sup, / Miss half of the potato's joy / And that's to dig it up.

  • ... a garden has a curious innocent way of consuming cash while all the time you are under the illusion that you are spending nothing.

  • For years I had the same attitude about gardening that Victorian women had about sex: Why would anybody want to do something that took so long and was so boring?

    • Joanne Kaufman,
    • "A Late Bloomer's Love Story," Good Housekeeping ()
  • ... the soil is so fertile that they say, if you were to thrust a broom-handle into the ground it would flower.

    • Violet Hunt,
    • "The Corsican Sisters," in More Tales of the Uneasy ()
  • Of all babies, plant babies give the least trouble.

  • The gardening bug is, I believe, rather like malaria: it may lie dormant for years and then suddenly break out in full force.

  • ... the garden was absolutely enormous. It had no design or plan, and there wasn't a straight line in it; it was like a blossoming meadow; from the house it suggested a many-colored sea of petals floating above the ground. Over the surface of this sea there were always butterflies dancing, rather like flowers detached from their stems.

  • Unfortunately, in the very act of weeding, you make it possible for new weeds to grow.

  • ... I have come to see surprises as the highest kind of gardening experience.

  • The kiss of sun for pardon, / The song of the birds for mirth, — / One is nearer God's heart in a garden / Than anywhere else on earth.

  • Gardening is, I think essentially the amusement of the middle-aged and old. The lives of the young, as a rule, are too full to give the time and attention required.

  • She often wondered if city dwellers knew what the sight of a seed catalogue did for country people. It was a gift sent from the seed houses — and the Lord — to make bearable the month of February.

  • ... growing things is a basic element of life, and gardening is a wise instructor in the art of living.

  • May your gardens be free of slugs; may your soil be rich and organic; and may you enjoy equal parts of rain and sunshine.

  • If you would be happy all your life, plant a garden.

  • ... a garden is one of the very few expressions of man's nature that is altogether benign ...

  • ... the large black slugs ... come out at dusk. Enormous slugs. As big as crocodiles. So huge we need a gun to shoot them. And by the end of the summer, if they go on growing, we shall have to go out in pairs together for protection.

  • Ideas are always disturbing, especially new ideas. Most normal, charming, intelligent adults have learned to leave their minds alone and so are immune to new ideas. But not gardeners. These unfortunates are susceptible to every new idea carried by the wings of chance.

  • A five-year-old with a stick, a seed, and a watering can could grow zucchini — the original, no-talent, guaranteed-gratification vegetable. ... Tomatoes are the runner-up to zucchini in the no-talent, guaranteed-gratification vegetable department.

  • Gardening is really an extended form of reading, of history and philosophy. The garden itself has become like writing a book. I walk around and walk around. Apparently people often see me standing there and they wave to me and I don't see them because I am reading the landscape.

  • When I'm writing, I think about [my] garden, and when I'm in the garden I think about writing. I do a lot of writing by putting something in the ground.

  • In the great gardens, after bright spring rain, / We find sweet innocence come once again.

  • It is as pompous for a home gardener to feel that he produced the plants as it would be for an obstetrician to claim he made the baby. Our garden grows in spite of us, in the same way that our children have turned into charming people in spite of the traumatic experience of living with us during their formative years.

  • The greatest gift of the garden is the restoration of the five senses.

  • Gardening is the greatest tonic and therapy a human being can have. Even if you have only a tiny piece of earth, you can create something beautiful, which we all have a great need for. If we begin by respecting plants, it's inevitable we'll respect people.

    • Audrey Hepburn,
    • in Diana Maychick, Audrey Hepburn: An Intimate Portrait ()
  • I love planting bulbs. It is making promises with tomorrow, believing in next year and the future.

  • When you plant early, you bring spring early.

  • A real gardener has the eye of Monet, the heart of Hercules, and the soul of Ma Barker.

  • Fair, rich confusion is all the aim of an old-fashioned flower garden, and the greater the confusion, the richer. You want to come upon mignonnette in unexpected places, and to find sprays of heliotrope in close consultation with your roses, and geraniums sporting their uniforms like gay recruits off duty.

  • People who have not tried, know so much about gardening! — and so little.

  • ... the autumn garden is a machete garden. Anyone still trying to control or tame it in September is either hopelessly deluded or has a strange need to use large cutting tools from the jungle.

    • Lauren Springer,
    • "The Arrival of Fall," in Jane Garmey, ed., The Writer in the Garden ()
  • Gardening in England is a hobby, about midway on the social scale between throwing darts and composing sonnets.

    • Abby Adams,
    • "What Is a Garden Anyway?" in Jane Garmey, ed., The Writer in the Garden ()
  • ... the garden, especially in the summer, comes in and out of the mind like a love affair. The knowledge that something's waiting for me when I get home.

    • Anne Raver,
    • "My Invisible Garden," in Jane Garmey, ed., The Writer in the Garden ()
  • Even more important than what she gave her garden was what it gave her. In it, she found a sense of calm.

  • A vegetable garden in the beginning looks so promising and then after all little by little it grows nothing but vegetables, nothing but vegetables.

  • Gardens don't just please the senses, they satisfy one's need for calm, privacy, balance, and stability; they allow one, no matter how weak or disenfranchised, to impose an order on the chaos and govern living things.

  • ... according to many religions, life began and ends in a garden. Creating an earthly paradise connects the two and offers a timelessness drenched in sensual pleasure.

  • Nurturing, decisive, interfering, cajoling, gardeners are eternal optimists who trust the ways of nature and believe passionately in the idea of improvement.