The weekend gardener

PHOTO BY T.M. O’SHAUGHNESSY Balcony gardening seems made for creating a garden retreat in which to shelter from COVID- 19.

Gardens of Eden

It’s the ultimate paradox for gardeners right now.

While our lives are snagged in a weirdly static state as we shield from the COVID-19 pandemic, our gardens are completely engaged in spring’s monumental forward growth.

As chilly as it may feel, the month of May is proceeding full throttle and everything is growing madly. Unfettered by social distancing and hiding from a killer virus, our tulips are blasting, the magnolia trees are bursting and every seed in the land is impatiently cracking open. I don’t know about you but I’m noticing, and appreciating for the first time, the freedom inherent in that mad unthinking growth.

The garden is even taking it all one step further this spring as we continue to isolate and shelter. Basically, it’s more or less the only place to be aside from our homes right now. A place where we can be as carefree as we once were in a way not fully comprehended before COVID-19 flash-froze our future. While the idea of a garden as a personal oasis is certainly nothing new, it has taken on new meaning in 2020.

I can’t even imagine how beautifully our gardens will respond to all this new attention.

No longer a chore when we’re finally home and everything else is done, we will now have more time for it, grateful for its very existence. It will be the place we wander freely in without the current strictures of daily life. A place where our children are allowed to play. A welcome diversionary space for our seniors who must otherwise continue to strictly isolate. Whether you have an acre to plant or a balcony, I think gardens are going to save us a little bit this summer, and it’s getting started just at the moment when we’re craving something beyond our four walls.


For me, my glass garden is always the first garden of every year. This spring I’m enjoying the intensely blue hyacinthes called BlueJackets.

A well-known Canadian writer visiting Hudson during Greenwood’s StoryFest a few years ago said something that has stayed with me. He said that almost every story can be seen through the prism of a Garden of Eden story—that is to say, a tale where the hero or heroine loses or is cast out of their personal Eden, and then what happens to them during their journey back.

So how interesting that during this time of COVID-19, we find ourselves in completely the opposite dynamic. Unlike Adam and Eve, we’ve not been cast out of the garden; we’ve instead been cast in. There’s something sort of new about that, even epic, in a way.

And oh my, it points to the possibility of dazzling gardens in 2020—this infamous year of living dangerously when the world must stand still but grateful gardeners can get busy.

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