The Wednesday Five

Every April communities, organizations, and individuals nationwide celebrate gardening during National Garden Month. Gardeners know, and research confirms, that nurturing plants is good for us: attitudes toward health and nutrition improve, kids perform better at school, and community spirit grows. Whether they are our backyard gardens or public neighborhood gardens, they make America a greener, healthier, more livable place.

In honor of Spring and National Garden Month, here are our favorite essays from our writers celebrating gardens.



1. Love Blooms by Ro Howe

The English, like many other cultures, developed a very particular style and ethos in garden design. Vita Sackville-West and Gertrude Jekyll were amateur gardeners whose contributions to country house garden design in England and the U.S. in the late 19th and early 20th centuries is unparalleled.

Everyone who had a house in the UK had a garden—front and back. My parents had a modest three-bedroom house in Buckinghamshire with front and back gardens, garage, greenhouse, garden shed, which stored all the gardening equipment, lawn mower, wheelbarrow, hedge clippers, garden fork and shovel, etc. The vegetable garden was at the back, well out of sight from the house. Compost heap, bonfire patch, potatoes, green beans, peas, leeks, carrots, lettuces, and berries in rows were not worthy viewing. Hedges and trees separated the “farm” from the “garden” that stretched up to the French doors of the drawing room.

Read more here.


2. Fresh From the Family Garden and Via Fedex by Patricia Yarberry Allen

Large gardens were always a part of my life. The six children in my family had to be fed, and this was the country life as it really existed — not the faux one that urbanites of the 21st century create when they escape the city to grow a vineyard, buy goats and make cheese, or become summer farmers. During that time, in that place, we grew almost everything we ate. Today I was allowed to be reunited with those memories. My baby sister called on Thursday and was describing her wonderful garden, “in spite of constant rain, Patty.”  She had supper almost ready, most of it from her own garden in the county where I grew up. My eyes grew misty, or green with envy, as she described the small new potatoes, tiny green onions, fresh salad greens, small green beans, tiny summer squash and lush tomatoes. Then she said to me, “Honey, I wish I could just send you a basket of real food instead of what you buy in those city stores.”

Read more here.



3. Clinging to a Minnesota Spring by Diane Dettman

As I sprint along the road, industrious homeowners perched on ladders take a break from washing the remnants of winter off their windows and wave at me. Avid gardeners push wheelbarrows from place-to-place, planting petunias, moss roses, and other hearty annuals that will survive a sudden return of freezing temperatures. Every so often when I walk past the sheep farmer’s place I pause and listen to a lamb bleating in the distance, a reminder of the amazing renewal that comes with spring.

Read more here.

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