Every Sunday, without fail, I turn first to the portion of our local newspaper that features a column by the county Extension Horticultural agent. There is just something comforting and satisfying about having that weekly local perspective on my garden travails in Kansas. In a similar vein, although I don't often feel that I've been shortchanged by never living nor gardening in our nation's capital, I do regret that I never had the pleasure of anticipating the Washington Post's Earthman columns from the late, great Henry Mitchell.
"A stout plastic bag of manure is a splendid gift. I think a whole load (of manure) is too much like giving emerald cuff links--a bit much and rather improper, unless you know the gardener well."
"Peace comes to the gardener when at last he has all his flowers in reasonable and sane balance--the day after the undertaker comes."
"The trouble is--one trouble is--I like agaves, the bigger the better. Well, these things work themselves out. Sometimes the gardener gets hit by a truck before he has to face the fact that the house won't hold but so many..."
"It sounds very well to garden a "natural way." You may see the natural way in any desert, any swamp, any leech-filled laurel hell. Defiance, on the other hand, is what makes gardeners."
I even used a quote from The Essential Earthman for the opening chapter of my own garden manuscript, Garden Musings, repeating the immortal statement that "Wherever humans garden magnificently, there are magnificent heartbreaks. It is 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.” My only wish now, with Christmas coming on, is that the Washington Post and Mr Mitchell's family would release a "complete collection" of the Earthman columns so that we could judge the best for ourselves, unfiltered and raw as Mr. Mitchell intended.