My reaction in my youth to a prognosticator that I would, as an almost 70-year old woman, be working and living in a garden, would have been disbelief. But I am.
There are many benefits but the obvious gift of such a circumstance is unfettered accessibility to the garden. Daily, I enjoy the horticultural tapestry devised and developed by minds (and, now regrettably, bodies) more robust and creative than my own. As the year begins to creep out of winter and I walk the garden in the quiet of an afternoon, I see both realization and the promise of what is to come. Cream and crimson hellebores wave at me, a rhododendron is blooming its mischievous pink, the daffodils are almost in full bloom, and the crocuses peeking out of the lawn are starting their annual show. The yellow and purple plants look spindly and awkward, like teenagers, as of writing but their beauty cannot be denied. The magnolia (M. Sargentia, var. robusta) visible outside of my husband’s study is withholding it charms still, but it won’t be long. The buds are surely budding.
It is difficult to describe the quiet excitement of a garden on its annual journey back to full glory. There is something so mysteriously quiet but persistent about the process that tugs the human soul. It cannot be denied-even by folks who describe themselves as knowing nothing about gardens and gardening. When friends have visited Bruce and me recently, they always jump at the invitation to wander the grounds. They arrive back for their wine from such a sortie with faces glowing.
The trouble is describing the coming force of nature’s majesty with prose feels like shouting over waves. Any response that results feels pale. Which is why I invited poet, teacher, and former landscape designer, Suzanne Edison, into the garden in March to help us get a firmer grip expressing that feeling. Poetry, after all, is story telling refined. The quotes below encompass that ability with grace.
“Poetry is ordinary language raised to the Nth power. Poetry is boned with ideas, nerved and blooded with emotions, all held together by the delicate, tough skin of words.” — Paul Engle, from an article in The New York Times.
“It is a test [that] genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood.” — T. S. Eliot, from the essay "Dante."
If you are of a mind, join us in learning how to make poetry that can communicate before it is understood, we would love to have you. The classes begin the first weekend in March (3) and continue for three weeks. They will involve some exploration of the garden as inspiration. Poems will be displayed in the Gardens in celebration of poetry month in April. You can read more about the poetry series on the Dunn Gardens website where you will find out that Suzanne is a gem of a poet with wide interests.