“The many great gardens of the world, of literature and poetry, of painting and music, of religion and architecture, all make the point as clear as possible: The soul cannot thrive in the absence of a garden. If you don’t want paradise, you are not human; and if you are not human, you don’t have a soul.”
~ Thomas More
I often ponder the power of a garden. Is it my age where I near 50 that makes my thought space reflective? I am not sure. Indeed, I ponder such thoughts of the above as my 20 year old daughter tells me the other day I am anti-social. She dared to say I spend too much time in my garden and should be out socializing with the world more. I laughed quietly as she spoke. She knows not the power of a garden. I succumb. It is not her time, nor her way – yet. But, I wonder, for this young generation so technologically infused, will they ever find their soul in place? Wil they ever touch the sacred that rests at the nexus of space and time, where physical presence is a mandate to open the eyes?
Yes, indeed, I laughed quietly. Reflective thought all while I weed my garden.
Thomas More was right. The soul can not thrive in a place where there are no gardens. Without growth there is only dispair. Without purpose, pushing up toward the light from deep earthen starts, there is no hope.
I will tell my daughter year after year, there is great value in a garden. Maybe one day she will understand. Until then I will bury my feet deep in dirt. I will lovingly plant my seeds and nurture their first thrusts of life, encouraging upward growth. I will tell my daughter over and over, there is great value in a garden.
I want to take you on a journey through my garden. I want to open your eyes to blooms and flowers. Flowers are sacred. They are the reproductive engine of nature – of life. Flowers are life. Like the womb of a mother, so too are flowers. Flowers are also colorful, they excite, they inspire. Flowers. The earliest fossils of flowers date back 130 million years. Thus, flowers are in our DNA as our ancestors have looked upon them and have been cured by them for millennia.
Let’s walk through my garden and see what we see as the reproductive cycle starts in my humble dirt sanctuary.
Sage has been used since ancient times for warding off evil, snakebites, increasing women’s fertility, and more. It was used during the Greek, Roman and Middle Ages. It was sacred and grown in monasteries. It was called sage the savior.
Chives are a member of the onion family and have been around for over 5,000 years though they were not cultivated domestically until the Middle Ages. Chives have been used for thousands of years in traditional Chinese medicine to promote sweating and male fertility. Medieval gardeners often planted chives around the borders for both decoration and to ward off harmful insects. It was thought that hanging bunches of chives around a house could also ward off evil. Over a century ago chives were used by Gypsies in fortune telling.
Zinnia is native Mexico. The Spanish referred to the zinnia as “mal de ojos” (which literally translates as sickness of the eyes), thinking it a small and unattractive flower. The seeds were sent to Europe in the 18th century. It received its name from a German medical professor named Johann Gottfried Zinn, who provided the first written description of the flower. (It is an interesting bit of trivia to know that his name is not only attached to a flower, but because of his work on the study of the eye, a part of the eye is called the zonule of Zinn, or Zinn’s membrane.)
Clematis is derived from the Greek word klema, meaning vine branch or vine-like. It is possible that even before the use of the word ‘Klema-tis’ the whole genus was known as atragene, meaning ‘firecracker’ in Greek. Apparently, when large dry stems of C. vitalba are placed in a fire, the heat causes them to split, making a noise like firecrackers.
Amarynth is known to the Aztecs as huauhtli. It is thought to have represented up to 80% of their energy consumption before the Spanish conquest. Another important use of amaranth throughout Mesoamerica was to prepare ritual drinks and foods. To this day, the grains are toasted much like popcorn and mixed with honey, molasses, or chocolate to make a treat called alegría, meaning “joy” in Spanish.
Cilantro is thought tobe from the Mediteranean region of Europe and appears to have been used for at least 5000 years. Cilantro’s seed known as coriander hae b een found in the anceint tombs of Egypt. This is possibly due to the thought by the ancients that coriander seeds were considered an aphrodesiac. The ancient Israelites were also familiar with coriander. In the Old Testament Bible (Exodus 17:31) we may read: “The house of Israel called the name therof Manna: and it was like coriander seed, white; and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey.” – This passage refers to the Manna which fed the wanderers for forty years. Coriander is also mentioned in the “Arabian Nights” a book over 1000 years old. In the book it was part of a mixture that supposedly helped a childless man to have children. The Chinese have used cilantro for centuries. As to how the plant reached the East from the West, we can only conjecture that it followed ancient trade routes. The spice routs between Asia and Europe were famous for taking spice from Asia to the Middle East and Europe. Aparently, this is a case of the reverse occuring. The herb was one of the first (along with dandelions) to be brought to the Americas from Europe. Cilantro was grown in many places, including the Massachusettes Bay Colony by the mid-1600s. It was brought into Mexico by the conquistadors in the 1500s. In the mid-1700s a liquor was made from the coriander seeds, but this experiment proved unsuccessful. Today, cilantro and coriander are widely used outside of Europe from the Southwest U.S. through Central and South America, on into India, China and Thailand.
Hydrangea fossil finds were found in North America , namely in Alaska , Oregon and California , they were dated at 40 to 65 million years ago , more recent discoveries in China , Japan , Taiwan and the Philippines prove that the Hydrangea have been on this planet long before the arrival of men.
Oh garden you feed my soul. You connect me with my roots, with nature, with humanity and with history. You inspire me. You intoxicate me. You de-stress me. You bring me back to life through healing. Oh garden you do indeed feed my soul.
I will tell my daughter year after year, there is great value in a garden.
I hope you enjoyed the floral photo tour through our garden this morning.
God Bless! L. Davis