Or What’s a Garden For?

I’m just in from an hour of weeding in the peony bed. It’s six feet wide and 30 feet long and contains 10 peony bushes and six day lilies. I started to weed it some weeks ago and never finished. It is now weed free – for a few days.

What I went out the door to do was to crank up the weed eater and trim around the stone walls and apple trees, but weeding the peonies was simpler. The weed eater can wait for a better day. It goes on the to-do list along with setting up fencing for the fall crop of green peas, processing green beans for the freezer, checking protection for the quince tree and peach trees against marauding raccoons, tying up the tomato plants, cutting off a burdock plant in the blueberry cage, taking down the screening on the blueberry bushes now that the season is over, weeding the raspberry patch, weeding two other flower beds, working up the trees that the tree people took down last week to open up the roof so the solar panels will get enough light to work properly, cutting down rushes in the pond, mowing the far side of the pond, weeding the asparagus bed, transplanting some of the rhubarb to a new site since it seemed thin this year, and a dozen other things I’m not thinking of at the moment but will as soon as I next go out the door.

Browning had it wrong when he said, “A man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for?” I would ask, “Or what’s a garden for?” Nothing brings home as forcefully the yawning gap between our hopes and our achievements as a garden. There is no way to subdue every weed and arrange for a thousand blossoms to bloom on schedule in their perfection without enslaving enough peasants to make Louis XVI jealous and bring on another French Revolution.

A garden brings you to your knees more immediately than heaven.

But I came in bringing a single daylily flower of a particular peach color I didn’t know we had. It would be faded by morning, but for tonight it made the day worthwhile. Does that nullify my modification of Browning?

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