He is pruning the privet: the seemingly never-ending saga of change in a garden


Please read this poem—that is, if you have the time or inclination. I know that poems don’t speak to everyone, so please, give it a try. I’ll understand if you don’t.

I thought for a change of pace I’d share it since it’s about gardening. (But yes, you’re correct, it’s about much more than just pruning.)

He is pruning the privet (a poem by Joanne Kyger)

The poem says everything I’d like to say right now. I could not find the words, they found me. I’m tired, but am still able to seek. That’s reassuring. As I near 40, I’m feeling my age and am waking up from a medical stupor, stupid illness I fell into at the age of 18.

Rip Van Winkle never prepared me for this.

Change and time is growth, and sloppily, wearily, messily, we’ll all keep pruning too.

It’s what we do.

Seeds of Inspiration, Plant Veneration, Pits and Poetry

Some palm-like plants I’ve grown from seed. They are looking kind of sad.

While eating a date today for breakfast, out of concern for my teeth, I bit into it carefully. I’d noticed a small chip in my tooth recently, so I sat wondering if it had been a seed pit from my last package of dates. It had been a dangerous bag.

Somehow, this led me to thinking about the poetry of Medieval Spain and of Al Andalus. My roads to nowhere often lead to this place, and I am sure that when you garden, your trains of thought all arrive back at some station that’s meaningful to you.

These are the things that we gardeners sometimes think about when we don’t speak to people all day. How on Earth do you explain that to people though when they ask you what you think about all day?

Of course all of our minds wander all over the place. Somedays I think of nothing, and yes, sometimes I think about seeds, and plants, and where the come from, and why and how. I think about the people who travelled with them tucked into their belongings, and I think about those who longed to see the plants of their childhood in places far away from them. Yes, these things I find inspiring and they perpetuate the mythology of the garden while propelling me forward as I create my own. Great garden poetry inspires me too.

The Palm Tree
A palm tree stands in the middle of Rusafa,
Born in the West, far from the land of palms.
I said to it: How like me you are, far away and in exile,
In long separation from family and friends.
You have sprung from soil in which you are a stranger,
And I, like you, am far from home.

Abd al-Rahman, Emir of Cordoba, d. 788 CE