“If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.” – Marcus Tullius Cicero
In this season when winter has come and gone, the natural human instinct to dig, and hoe and plant takes over. But instead of spring, this year, it looks like we have landed in the middle of summer. Nevertheless, we persist. Gardens tend to fulfil a deep seated primal need in human beings. After all the effort of messing around in the earth, it is nice to sit in the midst of it all and enjoy, sometimes literary, the fruits of your labour.
PS: Well, I don’t think it applies to kids who grow up in high rise buildings and have a tendency to be suspicious of gardens with their motley creepy crawlies.
LL: I worry about the future of the earth if garden insects are considered to be mortal enemies rather than common fixtures or even curiosities to be studied.
PS: That reminds me of Gerald Durrell’s ‘My Family and Other Animals’. He spent all those idyllic days wandering the hillsides of Corfu on his stomach, observing things on the ground.
LL: The bit where his brother opens a box of matches and a mommy spider with a gazillion baby spiders fell out was so funny. I laugh every time I think of it.
PS: I could never bring myself to read any book by Lawrence Durrell, he came across as such a pompous person. I suppose it is rather unfair to base one’s perception of a writer’s work purely on his younger brother’s recollections.
LL: Can’t blame you though, he really did seem so full of himself in the three Corfu books.
PS: Still, they were such great books; all those descriptions of island life, blue Mediterranean waters, olive groves, sun baked houses each with their different sized garden. Although he explored the gardens fully Gerald Durrell didn’t seem to do much by way of gardening.
LL: No, his mother was the one who spent her time gardening and I can understand that. It is so enormously satisfying to see things growing on the plant, even if you get just one tomato.
PS: Not so satisfying when the dog/monkeys/squirrels steal the tomatoes, as has so often happened to me. But, despite that, it is nice to have a garden, even if it is just pots in a balcony consisting of a few herbs and some geranium.
LL: Or on a terrace with grapes growing in a discarded bathtub…
PS: Yes, that was very innovative of you, I must say.
LL: But a terrace garden by its very nature is community property, and is open to attack by family as well as other animals.
PS: I read somewhere, can’t remember where, that gardening is a noble profession because Adam was a gardener. But his garden had snakes and my tolerance of creepy crawlies does not extend that far.
LL: Whatever it is, there is no more satisfying way of spending a day than sitting with a book in a garden or looking out on one.
PS: Do not forget the cup of tea…