Saturday, April 30, 2011

Herbacious and a Chance of OCD

White on white, two azaleas and some tulips.
I woke up this morning fresh from a deep sleep at 4 a.m. I think I was anticipating the pending bird song and sure enough within minutes my little chirpster starting in on his happy call. "I'm going tooo. . .Germany, Germany, Germany.

And at that point, there was little chance I'd drift back to sleep. I am now officially suffering an obsessive, compulsive disorder, known otherwise as gardening. I can't get away from it. And I'm starting to lose touch with reality. All winter, the New Yorkers piled up, while I turned the pages of nursery catalogs.

It's a defensive position, I think. As authoritarian regimes collapse, and earthquakes, tsunamis, tornadoes and birthers wreck havoc, I am blithely unengaged.

Rome is burning and I'm thinking about tulips.

A little book is keeping me company on those days of the week, when I'm forced to leave my garden to attend to my day job. So before I dash out into the weekend sunshine, (The most perfect of spring days has happily fallen on a Saturday. The weather forecast this morning actually incorporated the word "superb.") I want to share a few pearly words of wisdom from an old gardener that lives in the pages of this ancient novel, Old Herbaceous by Reginald Arkell.

This gardener's name is Herbert Pinnegar, who arrived in a basket on the doorstep of a charitable woman, mother of six, and what's one more.

The little boy was shorter in one leg than the others boys growing up in the village. And lacking a mother, he grew unevenly. He developed a huge inferiority complex that matured into an even larger superiority complex, as little Bert grew into his adulthood. He became garden apprentice at a manor home in the waning days of the Victorian era, when boys were educated to "work on the land" as farmers.

Yet, Pinneger, aka Old Herbaceous, rose to become the manor's head gardener and the respected judge at the county flower show. At the end, the sage old man of 80 props himself up on pillows at the window to admire a garden that has seen better days--his days. A little melancholy, but charming all the way through.

A few of the finer moments in the life of my hero, Bert Pinnegar:

  • Bert Pinnegar hadn't much time for girls, but anyone who loved a garden walked straight into his heart.
  • The apple blossom gave him his first real thrill.
  • To him, all weeds were flowers, while to the farmer all flowers were weeds, so there was little hope of an understanding.
  • She was a robust person with a robust appearance, who employed robust methods to secure her inevitable goal.
  • Funny, that! You planted a tree; you watched it grow; you picked the fruit and, when you were old, you sat in the shade of it.
  • Why were flowers under cultivation so much more delicate than the wild sort?
  • Everybody ought to plant a tree, sometime or another--if only to keep them humble in the sight of the Lord.
  • Gardening may be the most exasperating occupation under the sun, but it gives as much as it gets--no more no less.
  • The world started with a garden and a thing that had been going all that time wouldn't end so easily.
So I am off to the garden. The Putterer

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