Early tulips restore what faded in winter
   Finally, t-shirt weather

Today was the first day this spring I’ve had time to be out gardening in t-shirt weather. The daffodils and early tulips are in bloom, and peonies seem to be growing several inches per day. The early tulips are the most spectacular event at the moment. They are a form of grace, with “grace” understood as all that is good about life that we don’t and can’t earn.

All gardens are mostly grace, as nature responds all out of proportion to our little efforts. And the more we know the more we are beholden, not just to nature but to other people.

The plants we can now buy at nurseries and grocery stores for a few dollars exist only because of centuries of labor. Whatever motivated various gardeners and scientists, their work was a way of taking responsibility for the earth, increasing its wealth in the most fundamental ways. When I look at my tulips I am seeing the results of efforts begun over a thousand years ago in the mountains of central Asia when some Turkish man or woman saw the wild flowers and decided to grow them intentionally.

The Dutch, of course, adopted them as their own during the 16th Century, maybe because their brilliance seemed so glorious in the bleak landscape of the Netherlands. “What beauty there is in the Netherlands is largely the result of human effort,” observed Michael Pollan in The Botany of Desire.

Posted by Michael L Umphrey






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