Sunday, December 28, 2008

Plants as surrogate children

"It's ... developing a piece of land in your own image? [laughing] Maybe because we don't have children, and this is something we can care and nurture for?"

-Ron Wagner, Portland, OR gardener, asked on HGTV's A Gardener's Diary about his and his wife's reasons for devoting so much time and energy to their beauteous Thai-influenced garden. With its animal-spirit topiary, hand-constructed clay oven, and tea room, it looks very labor-intensive, although we do learn that the couple's elaborate stone pathways were constructed by students in a pebble-mosaic workshop they taught on the premises. Smart!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Odds and ends

Once again, I am keeping the original date of this post even though I'm not actually posting it till almost a year later. There are no inherent connections between these stray items, beyond the fact that they all registered as relevant to this still-hypothetical blog at the time.

A site where you can watch every episode of the BBC's Planet Earth series (if you're too cheap to shell out for the elegant box of DVDs, or not in a position to request it as a wedding present, as we did).

Volume III of Giambattista della Porta's Natural Magick, an alchemical text from 1658 "which delivers certain precepts of Husbandry, and shows how to intermingle sundry kinds of Plants and how to produce new kinds." Learn to create an olive-grape! An almond-peach! Grow roses all year long!

An interesting item (in Segment II of this episode of the public radio show To the Best of Our Knowledge) on writer Alberto Manguel, whose library of over 30,000 books has some garden-like qualities.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Seeds and roots

Okay, so it's really 1/1/09 as I write. This inaugural entry languished (practically blank) for a year in my Saved Drafts folder, and I've kept the original date to show just how long I've had the idea for a new blog. Despite these compelling arguments to the contrary, a big part of the appeal of a garden for me is that it's the first full-fledged hobby I've had since my junior high days making candles and flying model rockets. If you define a hobby as something outside of what you do for a living, then, since a big part of what I do for a living is writing, it follows that the best way to preserve the hobby-ness of gardening would be ... not to write about it ...

... Except that another big part of what I enjoy about this newfound passion is the myriad connections I find between working outside and the other aspects of my life, and writing about things has historically been one of the best means I have to think them through. A dilemma!

As I've planted, weeded, deadheaded, and composted, I've made plenty of mental notes for this hypothetical blog--just as I continue to make mental notes for this other one that was going great guns for a while, then ground to an unintentional halt in April 2008 ... to say nothing of this one I started last summer and these three others to which I sometimes contribute (as well as several more where I prefer to remain anonymous). I've collected literally dozens of bookmarked links for all of the above, and the time has come to turn those mental notes into actual blog posts.

Call it a New Year's resolution if you must, but I'm vowing to devote a few minutes every day to working on at least one of this multitude of blogs. One holdup in getting this one started has been the impulse to compose some sort of comprehensive introduction or mission statement to explain what it's about, what it's not about, and so on. But, just as I've neglected all those books recommending that I draw up a design for the garden before planting anything and have instead simply dug holes and stuck plants in them (or, to be more precise, bought plants first, left them sitting around for days or weeks, and then dug holes for them), perhaps it would work better if I just started writing here and let you figure out what I'm up to at the same that I do.

See? That's exactly the kind of metaphor I have in mind--so let's get digging.