Plant Chronicles & Fancies —
“Chronicles” and “fancies” — these two words describe the contradictions of my experience as a garden writer over the last 15 years. The paradox comes from striving to provide accurate and practical advice grounded in science and gardening knowledge while simultaneously attempting to inspire readers to buck — to put it politely– my authorial advice, break the gardening rules, and do whatever tickles their collective fancies.
Over the years, I have written plant descriptions (Flora, an Encyclopedia of the World’s Plants), how-to articles (The Oregonian’s Homes & Gardens of the NW), profiles and features (Portland Monthly, Organic Gardening, Gardens Illustrated) and a wondrous little volume about terrariums with a co-author (Terrarium Craft, Timber Press, 2010). Naturally, a good garden writer must get her facts straight and rely upon research rather than personal opinions but inevitably, garden writing also touches on broader, philosophical matters – to wit: Why do we garden? What makes a garden artful? What is sustainable in this complex world? These questions keep me writing — as well as digging, pondering the weather’s effects, musing on why I love one garden and feel meh about another, puzzling over my neighbors’ much-healthier tomato plants and, frankly, ruining far too many pairs of stockings kneeling to sniff flowers.
My wish — and the purpose of this blog — is to share ideas and experiences with fellow gardeners and writers of all ilk, both professional and enthusiast. Sometimes, gardening is an escape but often, working in our own gardens leads to important questions that need answers. Reflecting on these questions allows us to entertain the art and craft of gardening from a variety of standpoints including philosophy, history, culture and science as well as more practical angles. The thorny philosophical questions that arise, however, are only rarely covered in gardening magazines. So, if such questions come up while we’re gardening or musing in our gardens, well, let’s pull out the tools and dig in.