The Idealist Gardener

wild gardenThere once was a man who loved to garden. But he didn’t want to garden just anywhere, not in weedy fields, not in rough plots, not in public, busy places. No, he wanted to choose where he gardened, because he knew he would devote his whole being to the garden once he chose his plot.

He searched and searched. He traveled the world. But few corners offered the things he sought. He waited and searched and waited.

The place he sought would be unique. It would have craggy ruins of human history, left over structures of lives past. It would also have different kinds of weather; sometimes stormy, gray, cold and windy and sometimes sunny, warm and just plain mellow. He liked the variety. He also wanted to be far from busy city, with all its selfish and frantic people, but not too far. He liked culture, theater, music, good food and wine.

He knew that when he found the perfect place, all his dreams of heaven on earth would come true. His heart told him his little paradise existed, that he just had to be patient until he found it.

When he finally found the spot he was looking for, he noticed how thin the soil was, how rocky underneath. But it had everything he wanted. The thin soil would be a challenge, indeed, one which he would overcome with his loving care. He also saw a number of wild, rare plants growing about, which intrigued him even more. He decided this was a perfect place for him to plant his special garden.

He set forth with all his heart. He toiled tirelessly and without complaint, giving all his attention and love to every seed he planted. He constantly amended the soil, adding supportive nutrients, potash, phosphorus, nitrogen, loam.

Yet the seeds he planted barely sprouted. Tiny threads of green reached out from the pebbles. They grew a little, but not much in relation to the work he did. He persisted. He kept planting seeds. Planting and planting, day in and out, as seasons passed.

Meanwhile, his life continued, ticking away days. He spent so much time in his garden he lost touch with other friends. But he didn’t mind, for this was his pride and joy, his heartfelt gift to beauty, to himself.

The soil became richer as he amended it, and the many seeds which failed to sprout composted and became soil. He continued. Warm weather brought the garden forth as best it could. Some seeds sprouted, but offered flowers different than he thought. Instead of red, passionate flowers, only cool, fragrant white ones came. In place of fruits which should have nourished him, he mostly got fibrous stalks of hard grains. He relished the meager produce. He had some doubts, but squelched them.

Finally, one day the season of cold came, and the garden stopped producing any reward. He faltered with it, but did not give up hope. He was committed. But the garden’s failures ate at him, gnawed upon his heart. He had given so much for so little return. Where was the bounty he dreamed of?

He also noticed the more he tended the garden, the fewer rare plants appeared. This saddened him. He had been so busy trying to make the garden his, by his love, that he had overlooked the effects it had on the natural state of this little corner of earth.

With a heavy heart, he decided it was best to let the garden go to its own seed. So he packed up his tools and left the garden. He moved away and went back to his city life. Some time passed, cold and dreary days wandered in and out of his life. He smiled but felt no joy.

One warm day, he visited his craggy, little plot and found a surprise. One of the red flower seeds he had planted long ago had sprouted, a tiny seedling behind some rocks. He left it alone.

red roseWhen he came to visit a few months later, the seed had quietly bloomed. The flower was small and somewhat pale red, not quite the same as the one he expected, but it had a sweet smell. He visited the flower daily, but never tried to tend it. He just let it grow as it wished. He was happy.

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14 thoughts on “The Idealist Gardener

  1. Sometimes we don’t like to be tended or attended to, or primped and pampered . . some of us just want a friend who stays with us and knows that they see us out goodness and our faults–where we’re pale when we might have been bright–and he loves us anyway. That is good. Oh goodness. That is good.

  2. Liz- Thank you for knowing exactly what I mean. The rare plants need the most freedom and the least pampering to flourish. They don’t choose to be that way.

  3. This piece reminds me of the artist who over works his/her piece, or gets so involved with the flaws that he/she can’t see the part of the work that is of merit. The piece is then abandoned. The artist returns later, reevaluates, and decides, or realizes that the piece works just fine the way it is. Thank you Garnet…it’s beautiful.

  4. fineartist. It funny how a good story applies to many aspect of life. Thank you for showing me a fresh way to see this. It works.

  5. That’s a very wise tale, Garnet, and offers a lesson that might equally well be applied to people, don’t you think?

    Lost and forgotten gardens, if one ever stumbles upon one of them, can be amazing places. Their neglect, dilapidation and disappearance into a jungle of overgrowth raise so many questions (How did it get to be like this? Where did the people go?) and refuse to answer any of them!

  6. Ken- This was, in fact about a person, one who couldn’t return the love of the gardener, try as he might. I’m finding it more satisfying and beneficial to explore my personal conundrums through fiction and poetry.

    I had a particular scene in mind when I described the ideal gardening spot. It’s one of the many ruins in Wales, a lost castle, beaten down to a bare skeleton, open to the sky. But one thing remained intact, a huge fireplace as tall as me.

  7. Of course. You’ll have to forgive my literal mind. now that you point up the metaphor, it couldn’t be clearer. As for Wales, it’s the right part of Britain to visit if you’re seeking that particular kind of stunning ruination. Sorry to have been so crass.

  8. Ken- I don’t know why you think you were crass. The fun thing about writing is its double identity. Both interpretations are valid. Part of the fun here is to see what different people see in the same words. Your poetry fits into different niches depending on the reader. Thank you for visiting, as always.


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