I have an obsession with exploring other people's gardens. Botanical gardens, city parks, backyard plots, and balcony pots--all of them fascinate me.
I also love reading books written by gardeners. In fact, I have a collection of books--not just how to's, but philosophical ramblings, scientific explorations, and historical overviews of garden design and landscape architecture.
The more I read these texts, and the more I wander through the beds and borders planted by other gardeners, the more I learn, of course, but it's not the kind of learning that brings clarity. In fact, I find gardens more mysterious and wonderful now than I did when I was five years old, building fairy kingdoms beneath the hostas and rhododendrons.
No matter how many seeds I have sown over the years, no matter how many daylilies I have divided, I am still amazed when a plant I planted makes its way up out of the soil and into the light of day. Does this make me a simpleton? If it does, so be it. It's a heck of a lot more fun than the alternative.
So, I keep wandering. And I keep reading.
This morning it was a book by Charles Dudley Warner, published in 1870 called My Summer in a Garden.
"So long as we are dirty," Mr. Warner writes, "we are pure." Amen, I say, as I find this passage in perfect keeping with that wonderful quote from Margaret Atwood: "In spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt." I nearly always do, whether it's dirt from my own garden or someone else's. Either way, it's my favorite perfume.
P.S. I took all these photos the other day at one of my favorite places, Gilsland Farm (Maine Audubon). As my regular readers know, the community gardens there are an endless source of inspiration to me. I hope they inspire you, too.