Thursday, January 13, 2011

Thoughtful Gardening by Robin Lane Fox

Looking out on my Mother's garden before leaving the UK, my thoughts are on gardening and the Spring. The day before yesterday, the stonemason put the headstone in place at my father's grave. We went back to see it in the rain and wind at the cemetery yesterday morning. Yesterday afternoon the lawnmower came back from its sojourn in the repair shop and along with it the shears for the flower bed edges. Today is warmer and the stillness of Winter seems past. The robins and the thrushes are eating seed and apples in the bird feeder enthusiastically. Or so it seems.

Robin Lane Fox, Professor of Ancient History, has written a book, Thoughtful Gardening in which he writes many useful and wise things. Jennifer Potter reviews the book in the TLS:

For Lane Fox, thoughtful gardening leads not to saving the planet but to knowledge, “an asset which is intertwined with gardening’s roots”. Thoughtful gardeners think before choosing and planting, visit gardens in distant places, and reflect on flowers in fiction and poetry. Far from aping wild nature, they practise their artifices in a “conscious, independent way”, free of moral purpose, cutting corners where they can, but neither expecting nor wanting instant gardens. They hate hanging baskets designed to jolly up town centres, and relish getting their hands dirty. But they still make mistakes. Having gardened since the age of ten, Lane Fox is proud to have steadily extended the range of plants he has “known, grown and killed personally”.

These are helpful notions to harbor at a time of farewells.

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