Fruitless Steps

  • Post published:02/28/2009
  • Post comments:3 Comments
Off to the vegetable garden
Off to the vegetable garden

“If we are to describe the gardener’s March according to truth and old tradition we must carefully take note of two things: (a) what the gardener is supposed to do and wishes to do, and (b) what in fact he does, not being able to do more!”

So spake Karel Capek in his delightful book The Gardener’s Year published in 1931. No less true today.

Seduced by the brilliant sun and the mild temperatures we’ve had for the past few days, melting the snow, I told my husband we had to go down and look at the vegetable garden and discuss the plans I have for arranging the new cold frame and some new plantings. We trudged along, sometimes sinking up to our knees in the icy drifts, but to no purpose. There is no way to see the borders of the garden as they are and what space new elements might take. There is still nothing to do outside.

As Capek continues his March lament he says, “Yes, only when he becomes a gardener does a man appreciate those threadbare sayings like “the bitter cold,” and “the merciless North wind,” “the harsh frost,” and other such poetic cursings; he even himself uses expressions still more poetic, saying that the cold this year is rotten, damned, devilish, cursed, beastly, and blasted; in contrast to the poets he does not only swear at the North wind, but also at the evil-minded East winds, and he curses the driving sleet less than the feline and insidious black frost.”

Alas, as he says, “Yes, nothing can be done; it is the middle of March, and snow lies on the frozen ground. Lord be merciful to the little flowers of the gardeners.

Thank you Carolyn Gail for instituting Gardener’s Muse Day and getting us all inspired.

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Frances

    Hi Pat, alas yes, it is March. I have that Capek book and read one entry per night before going to sleep until it was all used up. His prose was perfect to describe the minds’ conversations with itself of gardeners of any type. A good seed to sow for pleasant dreams.

  2. admin

    The book is a delight! I’m glad you enjoy it too. Did you know he is credited with inventing the word ‘robot’ in one of his science fiction stories? I wouldn’t mind a robot to do some of my heavy work.

  3. Nancy Buchanan

    I’d love to be considered for some seeds! I read Kathy K’s message about her diseased hemlocks. Our row of blue spruce had to be removed so we dug in a lot of compost and made a small wildflower garden at one end and planted tomatoes at the other. They did well. This year we will plant that area with a few fruit trees for the birds.

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