Tuesday, November 3, 2015

What is a Garden For...?

Wild bee in a double cosmo, seed from Jason at A Garden in the City

I think a lot of us garden out of habit.

We may have started as a way to beautify a home, grow some food, maintain our yards, or attract birds and wildlife. Just as we gardeners evolve so do the reasons we garden and what we want our gardens to deliver.

Is the urge there to recreate some vestigial memory of a primordial garden from some distant ancestral past? Is it simply an add-on to another hobby, cooking or photography. Does your garden speak to you at some lower level of need; never knowing hunger while the sun is shining on your face and the warm wind blows?

Being able to fully answer this question will tell you what sort of garden you should create.

I think it is important that every small child has the opportunity to play in the dirt. I don't mean the sanitized boxes of sand with plastic covers that are so removed from really playing in the dirt. Some of my earliest memories are of playing in the dirt with my sisters on the farm with small metal farm implements and toy tractors. We had little disc and explored contour farming methods and terracing. We moved small chamomile plants around pretending they were mighty trees. We assembled small abodes of leaves and sticks and pretended our tiny farmers lived in them. We herded ants as if they were sheep or chickens, with about as much luck. We realized the dirt was not a homogenous mix, but contained different colored bits of silica, organic material, and interesting rocks.

Part of my succulent collection, echevarias, sedums, jades, sempervirvens,  barrel cactus, and more.

We foraged for anything edible. I am surprised we didn't poison ourselves with nightshade, mushrooms, or something else close at hand. I don't remember getting a lot of guidance on what we could eat and what we shouldn't eat. Just like children today we loved the sugar high, but it came from sand cherries, black caps, dew berries, and apples.  We eschewed burdock, dandelion, and fox grapes; all edible, but as palatable as other more tasty forage. We probably spat out things which were not good for us for exactly the same reason. We learned early on the itching caused by nettles, none of us were curious enough to want to taste them.

We all survived.

We learned about the natural world and our places in it.

A group of daylilies I grew from seed a couple years back.

1 comment:

  1. I like flowers and I like having my hands in the dirt. Would have loved to be able to roam open ground as a kid but there was none available without a long car trip.