By Francisco G. Gómez
A week ago I was invited to a round table discussion. The topic was end of garden season observations. It turned out to be a round circle talk because there was no table, no problem. There was a rather plump and blank faced man sitting across from me. He wore one of those long Rasputin beards; a clipboard filled with notes lay on his lap. In the seat to the left of him were about six or seven books nicely stacked; I couldn’t tell what they were about or even if they belonged to him until a bit later in the discussion. He rapidly added notes to his board, intermittently making circles and underlining his writings.
As the dialog unfolded into a back and forth volley of commentaries, questions and contrasting views on the diverse methods employed by the gardeners, or would be gardeners present, I noticed he remained silent for a long time; he continued to write incessantly. When he finally finished jotting down whatever was on his mind, he immediately joined the conversation, much to my surprise. I really believed he wouldn’t say anything, was I wrong!
As he began his different explanations and commentaries, he spoke well and in an intelligent manner, but most of the things that he spoke about were straight out of books written by different garden pundits. By that time I knew that the books belonged to him. His garden rhetoric was very mechanical and matter of fact. When he didn’t have knowledge of some subject that arose in the conversation, he immediately turned to the books he had brought along for reference.
This fellow seemed to be devoid of any emotion or spirituality, which would prove to be true as soon as we touched upon the theme of garden flowers. As I looked at his face again, I detected a sense of irritation. He slightly shook his head from side to side in disagreement; suddenly he interjected abruptly, “I don’t see the point of flowers other than for the pollinators they attract!” and “if they don’t produce anything, then what good are they?” At that point I felt an extremely deep urge to smack him upside the head with a copy of his Scientific American, that to my dismay wasn’t readily visible in the pile of his reference books. In any event, I maintained a calm composure and decided to respond to his ignorant opinions. I began by telling the group that I had been to a presentation at the Duke Farms in Hillsborough, N.J. a few weeks ago where the presenter, a cat named Rifkin (that’s not his real name) from New England was talking about the relationship a farmer must develop with her/his crops. He said that his plants talk to him; needless to say, this brought about a round of laughter from the audience. I don’t really know if they thought he was making a joke or believed his comments were crazy and they were laughing at him. After his presentation, I spoke to him briefly, and I learned that he was very serious about what he had said.
Once again, the bearded gentleman jumped in and stated that he just didn’t get it. I decided I might give up on the idea of having him make some sense of the analogy I was attempting to use to help him understand, but I suffer ignorance well. I gave it another shot; I told him about a friend of mine who has a plot at a community garden that a dear friend of mine and I coordinate. This friend grows nothing but these beautiful flowers that attract such a diverse array of pollinators. In the late Spring, when her flowers are in full bloom, I love to step into her jungle of life and be awe stricken by the diversity of nature she has managed to attract and has an affinity with. Naaaaah, he wouldn’t have it. Again he interrupted, “ I just don’t get it.” I decided to give up attempting to make him understand!
Science and the readily available resources of information on how to grow and cultivate plants are necessary, and very much a part of the methodology we are given as gardeners. But, that’s just the problem with science; it’s believed to contain the only way of knowing and understanding. There’s no room for some people to see and feel pass what’s in front of their eyes. Many times this is the reason they are without emotion and/or spirit! It’s funny how science understands that air exists, yet air can’t be seen, only felt when it’s cold and blowing on the face. Or how flowers know how to bend towards the sun to feed themselves. Flowers have been around a lot longer than humans have; they have incredible abilities for survival. Why is it so difficult to understand that perhaps they serve other purposes that transcend the mere explanations and uses of science. I imagine he’ll never get it…
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your
philosophy – Hamlet
Check out the link below, you’ll visually see what I’m talking about.