Sunday, April 22, 2007

Real toads, imaginary gardens

With apologies to Marianne Moore.

Paul imagines growing his own tea. I pluck weeds from half empty beds and imagine them full of big healthy flowering plants in perfect complement to each other and the house. If it weren't for imaginary gardens, we would barely have gardens at all.

Catalogs go a long way for the imaginative gardener.

In 1958, Katharine White published an essay in The New Yorker about gardening catalogs. Among other things, she wrote that she believed the writers of each were as distinctive “as any Faulkner or Hemingway.” In 1959 she reviewed the catalogs again, and now, having warmed to the topic, she confessed, “Reading this literature is unlike any other reading experience. Too much goes on at once. I read for news, for driblets of knowledge, for aesthetic pleasure, and at the same time I am planning the future, and so I read in dream.” . . .

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