I had a wonderful interaction with another gardener recently. It went like this, I wrote: "Gardening is a specifically human endeavor. It is a characterizing feature of our species, fairly well documented throughout our evolution. Which fascinates me. And each of us come to this endeavor for our own reasons and needs – sometimes very practical, sometimes very aesthetic, sometimes spiritual. Our gardens are like some larger version of our very fingerprints."
And a reader took issue with me. She wrote: "Your premise that only humans are gardeners is so wrong, it's hard to believe a gardener would believe such a thing." And I can see where she may have a point....
So I edited my written piece to go something more like this: Gardening, garden creation and garden dwelling in the multifaceted way that we humans do it - at its best and most mindful, with stewardship, purpose, beauty and playfulness - is in my mind one of the transcendent endeavors of our species. Our myriad reasons for and ways of "gardening" is fairly well documented throughout our evolution. Which fascinates me. (It should also be noted, tragically, that another characterizing aspect of our species is our simultaneous degrading and destruction of the world around us for our own short-sighted "gains"). Each gardener comes to gardening and garden dwelling for our own reasons and needs – sometimes practical, sometimes aesthetic, sometimes spiritual. Our gardens are like some larger version of our very fingerprints. What fingerprints do we want to leave behind?
For those of you who have read my writing or conversed with me on gardens for any length of time, I think we can all agree that I can tend toward the earnest in these matters. That sometimes, especially in the garden, what we want (and desperately seek) is that very pretty pot (see above a pot I love for its simple beauty), or that transportingly fragrant flower. That's true for me too - there's a lot to be said for the natural, lovely E-for-entertainment aspect of our own impulses to garden. But the fact that the E-for-existential facet of gardening had a place in my gardening interactions this past month brought me another level of joy.