Friday, June 19, 2009


by June

Exploring North Haven, we came upon a beautiful garden in the village. Its touching beauty was in its wild abandon but also in the souvenirs that remained of the gardener who had once tended it.

Nature reasserts itself.

Only the hardiest self-seeding plants remained to whisper about the gardener's old dream of the place. The lupine and columbine and forget-me-nots competed with whimsy against the whip-strong sprouts of maple that had sprung up around the yard. The flowers shouldered up through the grass.

I thought of my grandmother's garden gone to clover. I thought of my own lost garden beds under the pines at the lakeside cottage Birch and I coaxed into being but relinquished finally for the sunshine and potential of four green acres. Do my flowers still eke out an existence in that warm spot where the sun made it through the treetops? Does anybody bring them compost, pull the weeds, water them through dry spells? If not, they may exist only in my memory.

Gardening is merely participating in nature. I have to learn this again and again. I was reminded of it when we came home from North Haven. It had rained and rained here while we were away; the slugs had eaten and eaten. The cabbage looked like lace. The beans had been lopped off as they sprouted. The pumpkins were half what they should have been.

Nature reasserts itself.

Long winters teach me this, and groundhogs do too. Cold seasons or wet or dry, these all have their reminders about what is in control and who is not. Last year it was a hailstorm that battered a bounty of tiny green tomatoes to the ground. This year it is the cold spring that won't quit. My tomato plants look defensive. They know this has not been their season so far, maybe won't be. But all this confronts me with the greater truth I learn by gardening: Embrace it. Be grateful that nature has its own ways. Protect it, protect it, protect it. All I can do -- the starting of seeds, the turning of compost, the spritzing of fish emulsion -- all this is nothing to what nature can do. And that is the glory of nature truly: Without us, seeds still sprout, and vines climb, and it all goes on and on. May it ever.

There is peace in the garden that the island gardener left behind. There are reminders that she got down on her hands and knees and planted seeds and watched them grow and took pleasure in them. Forget-me-nots weave through the weeds. Perhaps that's where they got their name. Those blue flowers are the tiniest little spark of a gardener's imagination, still alive in the wild of it all.


tom - tall clover farm said...

What a beautiful piece of writing--sentiment I share as I find nature has her own agenda, though she is kind enough to allow me prime seating in her theater of antics and at times a bit part.

Nan said...

I love the pictures and your words. I'd like to go move into that place. :<) When I was a little girl my family went to Vinal Haven once in the summer. Even now I remember it was beautiful.

Nan said...

How did you get that envelope in the 'send us mail?' I'd love to have that on my blog.

June said...

Tom: We gardeners are fortunate to share in it ALL -- and to be able to swap our gardening thoughts through our blogs. Thank you for your kind words.

Nan: Oh, I wanted to move right in too! That place is just waiting for a new gardener to love it. And thanks so much for telling us about your memories of the island! I believe Fern and Blossom took some lifelong memories home in their pockets too. And... Birch is trying to reconstruct how he got the envelope. He'll pope over to your place with instructions soon...

Linda said...

Such a beautiful post, and the photos underline the beauty and power of nature. I know that some people found the book/film 'The World Without Us' very sad, but I found it uplifting in a strange way.

The Cutting Edge of Ordinary said...

Beautiful post and pictures. There is something about an old fence that just makes me sigh.

The Hip Homemaker said...

We have been having a cold, wet year as well. With it being my first garden, I was putting a lot of pressure on myself, but I am trying to just take what I am given and learn a lot.

Garden Girl said...

I absolutely loved this post. Wistful, yet positive. It makes me think about the palaces and temples covered by jungle in places like India and Peru.

Nature always wins, so it's best to work with, not compete with.

Flo said...

Thanks for all your comments June, I absolutely love your blog! Your photogrpahs for this post were so beautiful,and this post really made me think. Keep up the inspiring work!

Flo =]

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