What Is A Garden?
by Ed Tiley
Plant Me Green
There are probably as many definitions of what makes a garden a garden as there are gardeners. For my grandmother a garden was a definite space marked off by timbers, with short flowering plants in front and taller varieties behind, all presented to frame her fantastic collection of roses standing sentinel in the back row.
For others a garden isn't a garden unless it's food crops in raised beds, or the satisfying labor of terraced furrows with row after row of corn and beans. Oh! Can anything taste better in summer than a thickly sliced heirloom tomato with mayonnaise, salt and pepper on a freshly baked slice of sourdough bread?
For whatever reason the instinct in humans to cultivate is strong. Even as we have become predominantly city dwellers we have collected more house plants, terrariums, and bonsai dish gardens than pets.
Recently I went to visit a friend who called and said he'd be a few minutes late and that I should make myself at home. My friend's place is a five acre tract with just enough clearing for the house and a backyard which features a garden about the size of a kiddie pool. When he pulled in about ten minutes later he found me, camera in hand, trying to coax a Zebra Longwing butterfly (the state butterfly of Florida) to visit a particular bloom.
"Crazy ain't it?," he said, scaring the butterfly across the yard the other way. "I've got a garden now. All my son's doing. I can't get anything to grow. Always manage to kill it somehow or another.
"He didn't even tell me. He just started digging up the backyard here. He's got as many statues and stuff as he does plants. Look there's Buddha, and a unicorn, and a glass globe, and a frog holding a flower. And a boatload of plants. Pretty much one of each kind.
"I don't know," I replied. "Looks pretty domestic to me."
"Yeah, I suppose so," he mused. "I'm thinking I'm going to get a couple of fruit trees and put them over there in that little clearing. That way the grandkids can have peaches long after I'm gone."
Now, that's a garden.