From The Garden of Ed. Submitted for publication in The Towne Crier on July 13, 2005

St. Francis in Conversation with God, and How Many Gardens.

A question came in one day recently. How many gardens can you name? Well, I like a challenge as well as the next fellow, so I ask you to join with me and see how many you can come up with. I'll give you my list at the end of the column.

I received an e-mail from an acquaintance. I knew immediately that I had to share it with like minded souls. I asked for the source, and have yet to receive an answer.

Now, bear in mind that every kind of garden has specific needs, conditions, and, if you've read any of my preceding articles, the list might be very lengthy. I won't go into all of these now. But, before I delay, here is the e-mail, in tact, without editing.

Lawns & God

GOD:   St. Francis, you know all about gardens and nature. What in the world is going on down there in the USA? What happened to the dandelions, violets, thistle and stuff I started eons ago? I had a perfect, no-maintenance garden plan. Those plants grow in any type of soil, withstand drought and multiply with abandon The nectar from the long lasting blossoms attracts butterflies, honeybees and flocks of songbirds. I expected to see a vast garden of colors by now. But all I see are these green rectangles.

ST. FRANCIS:   It's the tribes that settled there, Lord. The Suburbanites. They started calling your flowers weeds and went to great lengths to kill them and replace them with grass.

GOD:   Grass? But it's so boring. It's not colorful. It doesn't attract butterflies, birds and bees, only grubs and sod worms. It's temperamental with temperatures. Do these Suburbanites really want all that grass growing there?

ST. FRANCIS:   Apparently so, Lord. They go to great pains to grow it and keep it green. They begin each spring by fertilizing grass and poisoning any other plant that crops up in the lawn.

GOD:   The spring rains and warm weather probably make grass grow really fast. That must make the Suburbanites happy.

ST. FRANCIS:   Apparently not, Lord. As soon as it grows a little, they cut it, sometimes twice a week.

GOD:   They cut it? Do they then bale it like hay?

ST. FRANCIS:   Not exactly Lord. Most of them rake it up and put it in bags.

GOD:   They bag it? Why? Is it a cash crop? Do they sell it?

ST. FRANCIS:   No, sir -- just the opposite. They pay to throw it away.

GOD:   Now, let me get this straight. They fertilize grass so it will grow. And when it does grow, they cut it off and pay to throw it away?

ST. FRANCIS:   Yes, sir.

GOD:   These Suburbanites must be relieved in the summer when we cut back on the rain and turn up the heat. That surely slows the growth and saves them a lot of work.

ST. FRANCIS:   You aren't going to believe this, Lord. When the grass stops growing so fast, they drag out hoses and pay more money to water it so they can continue to mow it and pay to get rid of it.

GOD:   What nonsense. At least they kept some of the trees. That was a sheer stoke of genius, if I do say so myself. The trees grow leaves in the spring to provide beauty and shade in the summer. In the autumn they fall to the ground and form a natural blanket to keep moisture in the soil and protect the trees and bushes. Plus, as they rot, the leaves form compost to enhance the soil. It's a natural circle of life.

ST. FRANCIS:   You'd better sit down, Lord. The Suburbanites have drawn a new circle. As soon as the leaves fall, they rake them into great piles and pay to have them hauled away.

GOD:   No. What do they do to protect the shrub and tree roots in the winter and to keep the soil moist and loose?

ST. FRANCIS:   After throwing away the leaves, they go out and buy something which they call mulch. They haul it home and spread it around in place of the leaves.

GOD:   And where do they get this mulch?

ST. FRANCIS:   They cut down trees and grind them up to make the mulch.

GOD:   Enough! I don't want to think about this anymore. St. Catherine, you're in charge of the arts. What movie have you scheduled for us tonight?

ST. CATHERINE   Dumb and Dumber, Lord. It's a real stupid movie about ...

GOD:   Never mind, I think I just heard the whole story from St. Francis.

Of course this e-mail poses all kinds of questions about wrong horticultural practices. It is tongue in cheek stuff. Most of us know what's wrong with this picture. The "voice of G-d" makes it plain. And, something to think about. I've never been a proponent of lawns. But, they do have their place.


So, how well did you do in naming different kinds of gardens? Here's my list. I'd love to hear from you if you have others, and, I'm sure there are many. I contemplate writing an article about each and every one, someday!

I find the following gardens as examples: children's, birds and butterflies, beneficial insects, kitchen, organic, annual flower, perennial flower, vegetable, fruit, tea (ceremony), cottage, native plant, herb, water, groundcover, moss, display, rose, container, lawns (see above as a monoculture grass crop), heirloom, hydroponic, xeriscape, bulb, maze and labyrinth, fragrance, medicinal, alpine, touch (for visually impaired), horticultural therapy, landscape, tree and shrub, theme (color, etc.), meditation (form and structure), formal, knot, Victorian parterres, woodland, sculpture, educational, indoor, balcony, desert, rock, botanical, and, yes, even the more mystical, symbolic.

I encourage each and every one of you to plant and play with some kind of garden. It may only be a window box. A pot of herbs. If you grow it yourself, it will connect you with the earth, maybe the cosmos. It's free.


From The Garden of Ed. Submitted for publication in The Towne Crier on July 13, 2005

© 2005 Ed Mues. All Rights Reserved.