Armchair Gardening

by: Wayne Paquette

(The following is an excerpt from "ARMCHAIR GARDENING"  by Wayne Paquette)


Gardens are temporal. They are music for the eyes. The act of gardening is the dance that shapes the music. Our shovels: batons through which we conduct our earthly symphonies. Each rose bush, peach and fern we plant in cool, moist soil is a note on the parchment of earth. As we wipe sweat from our brows each string of plants forms fragment of theme, a lyrical phrase. Each completed string juxtaposed against another string of bloodroot, persimmon and ninebark is counterpoint. The completed garden is a rendition of a movement in the larger multi-movement opus of our landscapes.

Our gardens stride through time as do we. The circadian rhythms flow in and out of our gardens, our lives. We are of these rhythms. We are of, by and about a temporal world. We are notes on the larger score of the Earth. We are a chorus of cacophony and joy, a sonorous band marching in complex rhythm, drumbeat and trombone. We are the stuff of this Earth, orchard, forest and corn row.

Compose. Create. Conduct the landscape… note to paper, plant to soil. Glissando waterfalls of weeping redbud, katsura and pendulous pine. Legato stretches of juniper, lamium, bugleweed, heath. Staccato pointillism of baby’s breath, lily pads and ornamental onion. Arpeggios of phlomis and pagoda dogwood.

…There exist so many plants that display strong interest in many and every season. In today’s smaller gardens it is essential to choose the musical notes we paint to score based on multi-seasonal appeal. Learn to envision plants with a mind towards small groups moving together through time. Master this discipline and through plant combinations your garden’s design will become stronger, more vibrant and expressive. Our gardens can shine throughout the year. We can make it happen. Are there are not earthly blessings in all seasons? Exercise the audacity to take advantage of each and every one. We can construct counterpoint replete with rests and swells, trumpets and tympani, cello and piccolo. Our songs reside in the depths of who we are. The music is rich within us. Close your eyes. Search, center, focus…

Now compose. Create. Conduct the landscape… baton at the ready? Dance! Metronomic pulsing of miscanthus and bluestem in the breeze. Quiescent rests of pools and ponds. Sonorous chords of red cedar. Mounding crescendo of vetch to viburnum to birch to redwood. Applause of dried leaves in the oak and privet, and the arrhythmic nods of approval from northern sea oats in the wind…

…Earthly blessings are gift, a joy in every season. All we need do is recognize each and every one. Among the many blessings of winter is that we can sit back and enjoy our gardens from the comfort of our homes. There are no weeds to pull, no heavy lifting of trees balled and sheathed in burlap, no hoses to maneuver in blistering heat, no back-breaking digging of rock-filled holes with our dependable shovels… our batons rest in this season. Peering through a frost-edged window or kicking, dancing through the snow, looking over the splendid work we have accomplished, the music we have created – chords, counterpoint and soaring themes in complex harmony. Consider changes, additions and extension that we will implement in the promise of the new season ahead. Ponder the whole, half and eighth notes that could be, the rising and falling lines yet to come. All of this winter musing is dream therapy. It is the potential music of life welling up: keeping, holding the embers of passion alive. It is joy. It is blessing. We are the child chorus of Earth. Make music in every season. Dance. Compose. Leap and sing. Dream and fly.