The Frivolous Gardener?
by Jarad Johnson
If you’re a gardener, chances are there are people in your life who have called your, “hobby” frivolous or unnecessary. It can be quite irritating at times, especially if you are told continuously that your passion for plants is unimportant. I think that goes for any passion that people don’t really get.
Obviously, I’m a little biased. I will be a gardener for the rest of my life, and I consider it essential to my wellbeing. Let me give you an example. This morning, I woke up at 5am to go pull weeds in my beds. This spring was cool for a longer time than we are used to, and my plants sort of just sat there whilst the weeds grew around them. I have been dreading it, dreading pulling those weeds, because I knew what a monumental task it would be, and the more I let the weeds grow the more titanic the task became. I began to feel frustrated and a little resentful of those flowerbeds. I go out every morning to peruse the beds, and every morning for the past few weeks, I have looked at those plants and thought, “is this all you can muster? Could you please do something?” They, of course, remained dubiously silent on the matter. But we had some record amounts of rain about a week ago, and there was standing water in all the beds for a few days. Then, like magic, I see growth. Finally! C’est magnifique! Suddenly, I find the motivation again. Immediately, I throw on some workout clothes and dive into the first (and the most overcome) bed. What lovely weeds I’m able to grow. I knew I had a knack for this.
Unfortunately, that was in the middle of the day, and we reached 98 with 65 percent humidity (que Dieu nous aide! Can you tell I’ve been practicing my French? I’ll try to annoy you with it as much as possible!). Who approved 65 percent humidity? God (or goddess), I would like to speak to your manager. Needless to say, I was soaked from head to toe, and only a third of it was done. It hopefully made up for all the sweets I’ve been indulging myself in. Gardening is nothing if not a good workout, and there is a certain satisfaction that comes with exhaustion. Perhaps it’s because the mind finally stops turning.
You can see why I got up at the literal crack of dawn the next day, although I still had to be wrung out and left to dry before I was allowed back in the house. I’m not really an early morning person by nature. I love the morning with its dew and bumblebees just getting to the flowers, and the way everything looks. It’s just the waking up part I could do without. I also love the night with its stars and darkness and the moon, of course. The full moon is one of my favorite things to look at. Consequently, if I’m on morning garden duty, I don’t get as much sleep as I should. I’m always either too early or too late. I envy those people who have internal clocks that allow them to wake up at the same time every day (also vatre faire foutre you lucky bastards).
Of course, I didn’t have to do it! I could’ve let the garden languish, let the weeds eat their way into my flowerbeds, but I couldn’t do that, of course, because it is not a frivolous matter to me, no matter how silly it might seem to an observer. I believe firmly in a direct connection between the gardener and the garden, and if you don’t tend that connection, you may start to lose sight of it. Many people, it seems, seek to dominate and conquer nature with their perfectly clipped hedges and their lawns (which are an elitist status symbol in my opinion, but that’s another blog post). I , however, seek to cooperate with nature, not place myself above it. A gardener’s garden contains more than flowers, it also contains the soul of its caretaker. Humankind becomes arrogant and ungrateful when we seek to dominate nature. Or anything, really. They forget that we are in a symbiotic relationship with the natural world, we are not above it or separate from it. We are a part of it, and we must fight to preserve what we have while we still can.
So, you see, gardening is not frivolous or, “playing in the dirt,” it is forging a connection with nature. It is our direct link to many important things that we seem to have forgotten. So even if I must wake up at an unnatural hour to tend to and commune with my plants…count me in. I will wake before the sun and go about my chores, no more frivolous than the nectar-drunk bees who greet me in the garden.
Jarad recently graduated from college at MTSU, loves tea and coffee, and tries to spend every spare second reading. He is a fervent gardener and is fascinated by all related topics and has spent several years writing about this passion. He has been gardening for 6 years and believes that Nature is our greatest teacher. He majored in English with a concentration in literature and plans to pursue and master’s degree in Ecocriticism.