The Power of One Writer
Back Yards, Ethiopia and Children's Books

Goodbye garden, hello secret gardeners

golden zucchini

The golden zucchini was starting to bear fruit.  I was on a hunt for pale plants that would set off the kind of dill that invited itself into the garden this spring, and that hunt was making me pay more attention to the weeds around my neighborhood.  The tomatoes were weedsstill small and green but looking promising.

And then I had to leave.


But it was a great year for me to be at the Vermont College MFA in children’s literature residency…among other reasons because this graduating class named itself after one of the books I most loved reading to my daughter, The Secret Garden.

Honestly, although I said a few weeks ago I felt like one of the girls from the Little House books when I was gardening this spring, I should have said I had entered the world of the secret garden.  Overgrown.  Rocky.  Bare patches of dirt.  A whole lot of ugliness.

mossBut like Mary and the other kids who poke and pull and dig and coax the plants in that book, I found the gloriousness of watching the green flourish against the dirt.  Sometimes it bursts and explodes everywhere if it only has a chance.  Sometimes it creeps.

Moss creeps.

I like this patch I found in one part of the dirt, though, and I’ve been trying to figure out how to encourage it.  I also planted Scotch Moss and Irish Moss.  Just before I left for Vermont I got nervous because I started to read about mosses and thought, at first, I’d put those two plants in a way too sunny place.  Then I discovered they aren’t true moss.

Scotch and Irish mossSome of us have a damp, shady garden and some have sun to work with.  Some of us have deep, rich soil.  Some have rocks.  Clay.  Choking weeds.

As I was gathering the seeds for my lecture, I read this:  “I remember hearing an interview on NPR with some pianist, who played some little bit of some piano solo, and the interviewer commented, ‘I’d give anything to play like that!’  In response, the pianist asked, ‘Would you practice for 10 hours a day for 20 years?'”

Secret gardeners do the work.


2 thoughts on “Goodbye garden, hello secret gardeners”

  1. I have been trying to identify the moss like weed – “not a moss” above which you wanted to encourage. I do not want to encourage on my vegetable plot but it is a lovely thing. Do you know what it is?

    • I just found your comment on my blog! Ack! I think you’re talking about the Scotch Moss and Irish Moss that still grow in my backyard habitat although not as vigorously as I would like. So pretty.


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