Sunday, April 18, 2004

On Gardening

Gardening is one of those things that old ladies with needlepoint bags are supposed to do. Old ladies with needlepoint bags are very wise: gardening is a wonderful activity. I spent an hour outside today, enjoying the spring sunshine and the lovely new baby greens on the trees. It's very good for the soul (if such a thing exists), and if you grab a spade and a rake, it's also very good for the love handles.

You can commune with nature, as they say, or wonder about the deep philosophical questions of life (Why do I feel like eating the shiny and plump worms that appear from the earth as I shovel? Is old dog poop that has gone white and light still good to dig near the peony roots? Could the problems in Iraq be solved by giving every terrorist and soldier a nice little plot to dig in?) And being so close to nature gives a renewed interest in all sorts of botanical and zoological questions: Why do the squirrels replant my tulips every year into one tiny circle, with the tallest ones on the edges? Why are most of the really interesting plants poisonous (mandrake root, foxgloves, lilies of the valley)? What makes dogs want to lie down on the most fragile tips of lilies? Did I really once see an enormous black-and-yellow striped worm appear from the ground after rain, or was this a nightmare caused by excess red wine and cheese feasting the previous night?

I'm planning a Garden of Hate this year. It's going to have a path covered with sharp gravel (shoes are to be left at the gate). Color will come from bright orange marigolds, form from yew trees tortured into the shape of bloated elephants, and scent from skunk cabbages. The path will end at a viewing seat in full sun, made from unplaned rough wood set insecurely on wobbly stones and surrounded by giant Scottish thistles.

I already have the Mars and Venus gardens, you know, one for men and one for women. The Mars garden has stuffed mooseheads suspended from manly trees with narely a leaf and a waterfall made out of beer cans. The planting is mainly of arums (click here if you want to know why). The Venus garden is all pink and frilly without a single straight line, and each flower bed is in the form of a teddy bear. Nobody likes these gardens, which was a great disappointment for me as the books about men being from Mars and women from Venus were so popular. What people like is my sex garden, but I'm not going to write about that one.

Even if you don't have a garden, you should go out and commune with nature once and a while. It reminds us about an important fact of life: it is this earth that our life depends on.

PS: This is for Daniel: You can build a miniature railway track outside and plant it with tiny plants that look like trees and shrubs from a distance! There's even a nursery that specializes in providing them.