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Gardeners, Even the Best, Feel Frustrated

The last few days provided time to rake and prune and clean up the garden since it is spring and that’s what we gardeners do at this time.

I even planted dahlia tubers and nasturtium seeds.

The garden demands attention which often turns into periods of work, sometimes long and other times short.

Yet I wonder if we can ever feel satisfied with the garden.

Cornish BookAlma Gilbert and Judith Tankard wrote their book A Place of Beauty about the late nineteenth century houses, artwork, and gardens of the art colony in the town of Cornish, located in northwest New Hampshire.  Many of the gardens were designed in the formal style which was experiencing a renaissance at that time both in England and also here in America.

Landscape designer and writer Rose Standish Nichols (1872-1960) lived in Cornish then and cultivated a garden that often won nothing but praise from visitors.

Nichols, however, felt frustrated in her work as a gardener. She once wrote about her own garden, “To tell the truth, the garden as a whole verges on failure.”  Compared to other gardens and with what she thought were meager results from flowers that needed extra attention like roses and peonies, Nichols revealed a sense of frustration in the digging, staking, and constant weeding which define the role of every gardener.

Yet it was precisely that work in her own garden that made her such a resource as a landscape designer for others.

Gilbert and Tankard write, “No other garden that Rose designed for any of her clients seems to have exuded such charm, peace and contentment.”

We gardeners move forward in gardening because we enjoy the process, along with the little moments of awe and even fun that the garden provides. Those moments we treasure even though at other times we may feel frustration. 

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This Post Has 4 Comments

    1. Donna, right now here in New England we have had no rain for many days. The soil is quite dry. All the hard work in the garden means less with litle rain. Hope it comes soon.

  1. Thanks for the book recommendation, Thomas. I’ve ordered a very reasonably priced copy from Amazon and will add it to my growing pile of fascinating garden history books that I MUST read! I’m glad other gardeners (and much better ones than I’ll ever be) have felt the same frustration that I do from time to time. -Beth

    1. Beth, somehow spring brings out that frustration in a gardener. There seem to be so many things to do. That’s alright. Day by day you will work on the tasks and they see completion in one form or another.

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