In The Backyard Parables (Grand Central Publishing, 2013), author Margaret Roach uses her fundamental understanding of the natural world, philosophy, and life to explore the ways that gardening saved and instructed her. In short, she learned how the garden feeds the soul. Roach has harvested thirty years’ worth of backyard parables—deceptively simple, instructive stories from a life spent digging ever deeper—and has distilled them all in this memoir along with her best tips for garden making, discouraging all manner of animal and insect opponents, and at-home pickling. The following excerpt is an introduction highlighting her early gardening experiences and the road to finding spirituality in nature.
Once upon a time, a faithless twenty-five-year-old got down on her knees and fashioned her first garden. It was a sorry thing, but also a matter of great pride, this perennial checkerboard imprinted on a sloping bit of ground outside her family’s kitchen door.
As if pricking through a preprinted canvas pattern of counted cross-stitch, she populated the tiny strip of inadequately cultivated soil with an equal number of two kinds of perennials. Half were low-growing, succulent rosettes called Sempervivum, or hens and chicks, houseleeks or live-forever—since as she tucked these first roots in, she unwittingly entered a world where all the characters masquerade behind multiple nicknames, and where art and science collide so that there’s no straight answer to anything (which miraculously somehow makes everything perfectly clear). The others were Kniphofia (a.k.a., red-hot pokers, torch lilies, or tritomas) a tall thing with vaguely obscene wand-like flowers striped in hot sunset shades.
She did not leave proper space between, nor note the light conditions either plant required. But for that moment, there was peace on earth, and trust in her heart.
In the practice of blind devotion to living things called gardening, that is where I got startedRead the rest of How Gardening Can Feed the Soul - Environment - Utne Reader. Note: this will also be cross posted / reblogged to iCreate.