Sowing

Kneeling in the damp soil

dirty fingers gently make holes

for seeds.

Across the road

a construction crew builds

many houses.

Like me they sweat

mud-spattered and muscle sore

from the labor.

Like me they believe

what they do is right, is good

they are not evil men.

They began their work

in a copse of trees which had to be removed

allowing space for building.

Mine began

on a small, sandy patch of ground

where sparse grass grew.

They cut trees

dug stumps

preparing the land.

I spread depths

of mulch and  compost

preparing the land.

From the high seats

of diesel excavators

they waved hello.

My bare feet

damp and connected to the earth

I smile and wave back.

 

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On Gardening

In order for gardening to be truly successful it is imperative to understand that it is a cohesive, symbiotic engagement between Gardener, cultivated plants, and environment. The concept of the Gardener as the principal actor is an illusion that must be abandoned. His influence extends only so far as the interaction between plant species and environment will allow. This point can be illustrated by observing that no master gardener, regardless of training or experience, can cultivate orange trees in Alaska. The relationship between species and environment prohibits it. No input from the Gardener, however intensive, has the ability to alter the result. Of course orange trees can be grown in a greenhouse in Alaska, but in this case an artificial environment has been manufactured to mimic the natural one conducive to their growth. They are then no longer in the Alaskan environment. This also brings the question of sustainability into play, they can be grown only so long as the manufactured environment can be maintained. There is an even more important question here. One that rarely, if ever, gets asked. Why don’t orange trees grow naturally in Alaska? What caused their evolution into a species incompatible with the local ecosystem? Quite obviously orange trees were not meant to grow in the Alaskan climate.

Giving appropriate consideration to such questions greatly enhances the Gardener’s understanding of the necessary interaction between Himself, plant species, and environment. The equation is not one active element (Gardener) and two passive elements (species and environment), rather it is three active elements co-mingling, each of equal value in determining the outcome.

From this paradigm the Gardener can then proceed towards interpreting the needs of the cultivated species based on environmental factors. In correctly grasping and responding to these needs He fulfils His role in the process and is rewarded with a plentiful harvest.