This past week my aunt gave me a stack of old gardening magazines that she cleaned out of her closet, and in one of the old magazines I found the most inspiring and witty article written by a man named Henry Mitchell entitled, On the Defiance of Gardeners. I read it out loud to my daughter who was sitting on the couch with me browsing through this stack of old magazines. We both laughed at the truth and humor of Henry Mitchell’s gardening comments. How I could relate! Having gardened for almost 10 years, I’ve seen disease, a true grasshopper plague for 3 years in a row, hail, wind, and other forces try to defeat my dream of a Garden of Eden here in the northwest corner of Arkansas.
Henry Mitchell, in the same article, wrote about grubbing out the dead and dying plants and starting anew. My fabulous 5′ high rosy hedge along the southern border of my garden that was such a nice windbreak got a rose disease which invaded our area and all 12 bushes died within a year! So, I “grubbed” them all up and started anew with blueberry bushes! I’m very thankful that all 50 of them are doing well so far.
This April, a 15-minute pea-size hail storm demolished my little tomato plants, so I got out the seed packets and planted more. Like Henry Mitchell said, “It’s not nice to garden anywhere. Everywhere there are violent winds, startling once-per-five-centuries floods, unprecedented droughts, record-setting freezes, abusive and blasting heats never known before.” I think I’ve seen them all, but somehow every spring I have hope that maybe this year will be a good year for growing a productive garden full of healthy plants and beautiful flowers.
A little more wisdom from Henry Mitchell: “Everything grows for everybody. Everything dies for everybody too. There are no green thumbs or black thumbs. There are only gardeners and non-gardeners. Gardeners are the ones who, ruin after ruin, get on with the high defiance of nature herself, creating in the very face of her chaos and tornado, the bower of roses and the pride of irises. Defiance, on the other hand, is what makes gardeners.”