Monday, August 30, 2010

Garden Innuendo

I've long held that gardeners are earthy in far more ways than one might associate with having their hands dirty.  Most garden literature appropriately stays away from the birds and the bees and other natural topics, but the subtext of sex is always there, lurking deep beyond the printed word. Not many of us actually do our gardening au naturale, but that's just a wise move to avoid sunburn for most of us, let alone the danger posed by rose prickles on exposed skin (Ouch!). It's not surprising, really, because how could a gardener be immersed in the fecundity and bountiful fertilization of a healthy garden without otherwise acknowledging that the lessons of the Garden of Eden were not about how the perfect Man and perfect Woman could be happy in the perfect World, they were about how sin and procreation always overgrow the boundaries we set for our gardens and mess things up.

I find some of the forthright bawdiness prevalent in the works by some authors to be refreshing. Cassandra Danz, for example, in Mrs. Greenthumbs, tends to overheat in her garden at a regular interval. One of my favorite books happens to be Second Nature by Michael Pollan and I've always thought he had a good explanation for why one of the biggest Hybrid Teas around was named 'Dolly Parton'. It's the subliminal messages hidden in most of the other garden literature that we've got to watch out for though. I've read The Hidden Meaning of Flowers but I didn't quite get the point. And recently I've been reading Going to Seed by Charles Goodrich.  It's a quick and very readable book of short thoughts on gardening and life, but consider a passage from the essay titled "Going to Seed" on page 47: "Once I was biodynamic.  I used to do a lot of heavy mulching.  I tried my hand at companion plantings, played around with French intensive.  There was a time I'd dribble seed into any dirt I came across."

Get it yet?  In case you didn't, Goodrich goes on to say, "But I'm done sowing wild oats.  I'm not planning to graft a branch on some other guy's tree.  Anyway, who cares who can raise the biggest zucchini?  I'm just happy looking at the pictures."

I mean, come on, talk about your middle-aged crisis.  Mr. Goodrich needs help and needs it soon.  No gardener should ever give up the urge to plant seed in the dirt, whether the soil is quick-draining sand, tenacious clay, or needs some organic amendment. What would gardening be without the urge to outdo the neighbor in growing the biggest zucchini or the most succulent tomato?  And there's a lot said these days about the advantages of companion plantings with benefits.  

I might have missed something, though, regarding what Mr. Goodrich was really trying to say.        

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