Good morning, sword ferns.

I didn’t make a specific New Year’s resolution. Not after last year, when I made the mistake of saying I’d plant a certain tree (a magnolia). It seemed simple enough until I learned that plants choose you—this was further confirmed in November when I was serendipitously given a stewartia.1

Anyway, this year I want to look at big picture. Ask simple questions like, Why am I even doing this?, and, How is it even worth it? To start, I’ve been comparing these two excerpts from a couple old gardening books (emphasis mine)…

Love your garden and work in it and let it give you what it surely will of sweetness, health, and content, and let no one feel that the benefit is all on the side of the garden, for truly you will receive more than you give, no matter how faithfully you work, and you will soon find yourself more dependent upon your garden than your garden upon you. — Louise Beebe Wilder, My Garden2

But however labour-saving you make your hobby, you will never get more out of it than you put in. Now and again it seems worth taking that extra bit of trouble that brings in its train some rather exciting result. You feel you have got somewhere. — Christopher Lloyd, The Well-Tempered Garden3

Are these just two sides of the same coin? To me, Wilder is delighted and Lloyd is resigned in the struggle. Surely they both love what they do, enough so that they’ve written books on the subject. But clearly the garden’s give and take is, if not polarizing, debatable. Eventually, my own young garden will really need me. This year, I’ll try to figure out why I need it. 

Hey for Effort

Do you get more out of your garden than you put in? How rewarding is the process? Tell me about it: [email protected].

  1. A friend offered a young Stewartia psuedocamilia ‘Ballet’ while touring his yard — this was, coincidentally, the day after I added it to my wish list. It was quite a surprise, amid excellent late fall weather. We dug it up and I planted it in my backyard the following day. ↩︎

  2. My Garden was written by Louise Beebe Wilder and published in 1916. ↩︎

  3. The Well-Tempered Garden was written by Christopher Lloyd and published in 1970. ↩︎