Sunday, August 19, 2007

The nature in gardening

We're fortunate to have a welcoming and peaceful garden, with lots of space. It suits us well. We've tried to re-create the sense of nature -- of 'being in the woods' -- from our part of the world, the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
The yard definitely wasn't lovely when we started, being nothing much more than a vast expanse of lawn punctuated by a few large trees, so we have the satisfaction of having nurtured it ourselves. The journey of becoming gardeners as well as botanists (there is a distinct difference between botanists, horticulturists, and gardeners, for sure) and taking pleasure in the rapid growth of many plants is continuing, as we worry about this year's drought and drag the hoses around.

Our garden is largely a native one, but still is suffering from the lack of rain, especially some species. The Joe-Pye that I love because of its attractiveness to butterflies is more than sadly droopy in the afternoon heat, in spite of all the extra water we've given it, even in the low-lying swale. The pleasure that I have being out in the garden is such a respite from stressful days. And the view from my study window makes up for being behind the computer. Noticing things like a sudden descent of a group of blackbirds gives me a break from whatever is demanding my attention.

I had an experience this summer that I was reminded of recently. In DC for a conference, each morning as I walked to the conference hotel, I passed an activity center for homeless people. By eight am, a good number of people were outside waiting for the center to open. One morning, I noticed a middle-aged woman digging in a small bed she had created next to the building. She was 'planting' weeds in small holes that she had carefully dug. She looked up at me as I walked by, and beamed.

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