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Death in the Garden

  • Subject: Death in the Garden
  • From: gw1944@vermontel.net (Glen Williams)
  • Date: Mon, 12 Apr 2004 08:13:57 -0400

Greetings Hosta Folk,

All gardeners know better,  yet some of us rely on anthropomorphism to
establish a bond between the kingdom of plants and the kingdom of human
beings. I expect that by doing this,  a number of us subtly indicate a
clear preference for one kingdom over another. It's not only dogs and cats
that have to bear the burden for our too human imaginings. This is a
weakness , yet for some of us it acknowledges a "they" (plants) which are
often seen in very human terms. After all , we do come up with all those
damned names for hostas.

I suppose we cross the mental health line when we start talking to H.
'Bobbie Sue' while in the garden, hanging around H. 'Aphrodite' more than
is really necessary,  and planting some very red geraniums at the foot of
H. 'Painted Lady'. All of this and more goes on in more gardens than we
might want to imagine. All hosta folk have these lapses and we slip into
anthropomorphism  without a blush.

I want to say that there is no need for apology.  Imagine how much worse it
is for those poor souls enamored with certain ( but nameless) gaudy

A couple of weeks ago I attended three plant lectures at one event. It was
still very much February here in Vermont despite the calendar saying late
March. I paid my $25.00 with fewer whimpers than I would have thought. The
lectures were well presented  (including the one on hostas :-)), but I took
particular notice of a woman who made an excellent presentation on theme
gardens.  In the lecture she gave her audience two useful tools for dealing
with the inevitable "death" in the garden that frustrates all of our
springs, summers, and falls.  We worry in winter too, but are generally
prevented from premature mourning; we just imagine the worse during these
months and hope for spring.

The speaker's gift of phrases depends on a heavy tolerance for
anthropomorphism, but I figure most of us are half way there anyhow.  She
said that she learned to deal with plant death from a friend who had given
her  a solicitous phrase which would enable the grieving process to be
experienced in a proper perspective.  The lecturer indicated that she had
learned to think  of the new plants she purchased  as going through an
"interview" process. The first planting was an interview. Some plants would
pass this interview, but some would (quite understandingly) not pass, be
thanked for their efforts but asked not to return.  Such an act also helps
one to believe that the gardener is in charge of the "interview "process.
The second phrase she used in her presentation was a theme and variation on
the first . She said that the plants that came to her were " auditioning"
for her garden and were responding to a casting call. And that of course,
only a few could be stars.  Fortunately she stopped before she got to any
metaphor about plants running for office and electability. We all know
where that goes. Still there was a nice idea here. While it wasn't worth
the $25.00 entrance fee...... I did win the door prize in a drawing during
the break. It was a giant antique crock with some bizarre house plants
stuffed into it. I expect that it might have been the 49 cent version of
the hanging Gardens of Babylon.  I sense  an "interview" in the near future
followed by and "audition". These events will be mercifully short....with
no mourning period.

"A book is a mirror. If an ass peers into it, you can't expect an apostle
to look out." Lichtenberg

Glen Williams
20 Dewey St.
Springfield , Vermont
Tel: 802-885-2839 

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