An Instrument of Anarchy

Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature, is a help. Gardening is an instrument of grace. ~ May Sarton

A friend sent above quote to me today. It’s a lovely sentiment — gardening as an instrument of grace — and I do agree with it. To an extent. And that extent is where the ruthlessness begins.

To be honest, I’m not ruthless enough to be a good gardener, but I am learning to be heartless when necessary, or rather, I should say I am trying to learn, though it’s hard. I really do prefer to think of my garden as a place of peace — and grace — but I am committing enough atrocities in even in the most innocent-looking of my garden spaces to satisfy a whole slew of criminals and mystery writers.

For example, the other day, I hacked a few plants almost to death to protect a few shy plants from being choked into extinction by those more aggressive organisms. I beheaded a few plants — cut off the spent flowers — and justified my actions by telling the poor headless plants the decapitation would encourage more flowers to bloom. I tried poisoning some plants that resisted any other of my attempts at controlling their behavior, but those plants have such strong constitutions they even resisted the poison. I’ve murdered weeds, kidnapped baby plants from the mama plants to give the mama room to grow, and even worse, I was so callous, I did not even hear her cries of distress. I’ve stolen the fruits of some plants — admittedly, that’s what I grew the tomato and cucumber plants for, but that does not mitigate the cruelty to the poor plants.

You’d think with all that mayhem (deliberately maiming a living organism) and herbicide (deliberately causing the death of a plant in the same way that homicide is the deliberate act of causing the death of a person), my plants would behave, turning my various gardens places into places of law and order. I suppose they are places of law — the law of nature — but they are rapidly losing any sense of order. Not only do I lack whatever authority or criminal tendencies might be necessary, I also lack the energy and strength to whack my garden spaces into submission, so the plants — flowers and weeds alike — do whatever they wish.

Apparently, for me, rather than gardening being an instrument of grace, it has become more of an instrument of anarchy.


What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

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2 Responses to “An Instrument of Anarchy”

  1. Estragon Says:

    Rather than an instrument of anarchy, I prefer to view gardens as examples of entropy and find grace in the acceptance of my limits to control it.

    I planted some coleus in containers at my cabin this year. Although I planted them for a bit of leaf colour among the flowers, it turns out these also flower. It also turns out the hummingbirds and bees love the coleus flowers – more so than the flowers I planted to attract them. The leaves look like coleus to me, and they were labelled as such, but maybe they aren’t coleus at all. In any case, the bees, hummingbirds, and I are all happy with the accidental flowers.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Controlling things seems impossible, though I can try to plant things, and I can try to remove harmful things. Other than that, not so much.

      I didn’t know coleus had flowers, either, but they do — blue flowers. And yes, those flowers attract butterflies, hummingbirds, and bees.

      I planted coleus outside, but it didn’t survive. I didn’t think to plant it in a pot.

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