A Gardener's Breviary

First, take stock of what is in your garden.

All plants are distinct;

Seek the animating spirit in each vine and bloom.

Let them speak to you, in moments of quiet

Before beginning.

Do not stake pansies.

Refrain from flooding roses.

Leave the lotus in the pond--

Do not insist that it grace the sill.

Plans and designs may be made, but must remain flexible;

An unwanted plant may be hardy enough to appear year after year--

Trust its purpose.

Conversely, the most ardently desired flower may fail, despite love and care.

Trust its purpose, too.

When your plants are thirsty,

Water is best.

Vinegar, alcohol, noxious powders, and lye soap will all damage or destroy roots, stems and blooms.

Pruning, trimming and thinning can be beneficial if done judiciously,

But remember,

Everything will grow towards the sun,

And in its own time and shape.

Individuals of a common variety still differ in some particulars.

Fence out foragers.

Weed regularly.

Everything given to a garden, it will give back.

Does it matter if the sunflower blooms for you, or for the jay?

Keep soil turned, and loose.

Remove grubs and worms.

It is all right to save cuttings; a vase for your table or bedside will please for days.

Most things, even lovely things, are temporal, not eternal.

Beauty is holy.

Real love is never wasted.

Above all,

Remember that tending is not the same as owning.

Good luck and happy gardening.


written for magpie 26

art by Gustav Klimt



steveroni said…
Do you know Shay, this post today lets me see why I came back here yesterday to visit. The absolute truth here:

This is the most spiritually all-encompassing instructions for living ever which I have read outside of a Big Blue Book I own and use.

Trust the purpose! Oh! I pray to become not a weed, but if it must be so, trust the purpose...all in the plan of the Great Gardener.

Thank You, Shay.
Ileana said…
Water is best and everything grows towards the sun...in its own time, right?

I love this one, Shay.
Do away with most child rearing books and simply hand this to new parents.
TALON said…
"...tending is not the same as owning." - wise words, Shay! and a distinction not often made.
Rinkly Rimes said…
Such clear instructions! And yet, at the ame time, pure poetry. And what important messages!
cosmos cami said…
Gardening instruction and poetry.
It works!
Riot Kitty said…
I'll lay off on the rubbing alcohol with my tomatoes :)
Jannie Funster said…
Wow. And wow.

This is a different side of you, to my eyes and heart.

Blows me away.

Shoot, no beer whilst I prune and weed? ;0

Kathe W. said…
perfect instructions for life!
Boonie S said…
You've packed plenty of profound ponderings in here:
"Trust its purpose"
"Most things, even lovely things, are temporal, not eternal".
"Beauty is holy".
"Real love is never wasted".
"Remember that tending is not the same as owning".
- and many more....
The lessons of life.

Great stuff. Thank you.

Take care.
All the best, Boonsong
Tabitha Bird said…
Shay you are beautiful. This poem is a garden in itself. I love this way of looking at all that grows and lives and needs its space. :)
Anonymous said…
you make gardening sound like a lot of work! lol! beautiful poem though, filled with thought provoking lines.
Lynn said…
Like Talon, I love the lines "tending is not the same as owning." Exactly.
Aoife.Troxel said…
Everything will grow towards the sun. Really enjoyed this sentiment. It's a good thing to remember. Great Magpie.
ellen abbott said…
Oh Shay, you are exquisite.
Suz said…
I'm keeping a copy of this
it's wonderful!
very beautiful!
a pleasant read.
Mama Zen said…
You are amazing.
Helen said…
Magical and wisdom-filled words from a Master Gardener / writer.
Lovely Magpie!
Blue Bunny said…
my jannie was rite. this is one amazzing poem.

gardins iz my speshilty, so this speeks deep to my hart and sole!

wit loves

Joanna Jenkins said…
"Remember that tending is not the same as owning."
More please,
xo jj
steveroni said…
If ya got a minute, my Magpie is HERE
Cloudia said…
I love the grave playful gravity of your words, Shay

Aloha from Honolulu-Ville :)

Comfort Spiral
annell4 said…
This was amazing! Thank you.
Angie Muresan said…
"Tending is not the same as owning." What amazing words! If we'd just all remember that.

Mojo said…
Bravi, bravi, bravissimi! This is beautiful Shay. So much so that I'm not even going to make the comment that I'd be better served to forage than attempt to garden. (I could kill a plastic cactus, I swear.)
moondustwriter said…
I agree my dear "real love is never wasted"....

Lovely piece my illustrious friend

Happy Weekend

Throwing moon dust sprinkles your way and smiling
Tess Kincaid said…
I especially love "tending is not the same as owning". And the Klemt is the perfect image to accompany.
Tumblewords: said…
Wonderfully wise writing with lovely lyrical lines!
Anonymous said…
This is really beautiful and earthy, and it is very true. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for my forages to stay out of the orchard tonight so that I can fix the fence tomorrow.

steveroni said…
Your blog-bud will be able to report to you that steveroni is a genuine gentleman--I promise that. At the same time, I'm always excited at the prospect of meeting face-to-face a blogger friend.

Thank you for your visit, Shay.
ninotaziz said…
I have forgotten that I love gardening too! Thanks you for the reminder, Shay...Lovely!

Everything will grow towards the sun!
Brian Miller said…
nice shay...tening is not the same as owning...and each grows toward the sun...and ints own time and way...lots got great little seed scattered throughout your garden...
AngelMay said…
No wonder I have such a black thumb! Gardening is WORK! :)
Sue J said…
Written by a true gardener. I would like to stick this on my fridge, with your permission :) Great Magpie.
Fireblossom said…
Sue...that would be fine. :-)
Liara Covert said…
Wonderful you choose to share here. Living experience speaks volumes. Living vicariously through others is only a guide. Existing in the physical world does not come with an instruction book. And yet, universal lessons present themselves in forms and situations that are understood by those who choose to raise self-awareness. To be open and awakening is to begin to recall inner knowing and to remember the path back to infinite consciousness.
Daryl said…
This one will touch everyone .. and its SO true ..
signed...bkm said…
this is wonderful, i just watered my garden a little while ago, and everything is just growing crazy, -- i am not one for design in a garden your post just made me feel so good, i love the wildness - even the leaves a weeds have their place - its beauty is in the wonder that it places in our heart--perfect magpie...bkm
Anonymous said…
I agree with whoever said above that this would be an excellent text to send home with new parents. "Trust the purpose" is one of my many favorites here. Absolutely wonderful piece,

Helena said…
What fantastic tips and care guide via Magpie! Maybe NOW I'll grow something right!!
PattiKen said…
See, this is why I can never manage to have a successful garden. I just can't follow the rules. I did better raising children.

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