james, stockton – usa

Gardening in the time of Covid-19

We are in the midst of a pandemic and gardens are closed to public view around the world. 

I feel I should be more frightened, balanced on this point of not knowing, only being able to guess what the future holds, at times even trying to think this is not such an abnormal state of things, while seeing the world’s economy crashing down around us and an authoritarianism frighteningly like fascism rising in my own country and, it seems, throughout the world. 

Nature, and gardens, go on doing as they have always done. Most continue to be maintained by at least skeleton crews. So … what if the human race simply disappears? Our gardens would come to an end, but life in the world wouldn’t. The thing we call nature will go on in some way we can’t anticipate.

What would be lost? Is the experience of people in gardens of any significance when countries may be dying and civilization coming to an end? 

I continue to work in my garden, wondering if I’ll be able to open it to visitors this summer, and not feeling very worried if I can’t. I continue to make plans for new plantings. I wait for an order of 62 Polystichum acrosticoides and 62 Packera obovata from one nursery, 120 Carex cherokeensis and 32 Carex muskingumensis from another. I just planted two Disporum cantoniense ‘Night Heron’ in a bed of elegant plants with complex foliage outside the living room windows, and look forward to enjoying them this summer, and to seeing them next spring. 

I’m under contract to write a book and I continue to work toward deadlines I realize may not really matter. But I work as if it did matter. Life goes on.

But we do seem very much on a precipice. 

I think no one is certain what Voltaire meant when he had Candide say, “We must cultivate our garden.” 

I choose to live in the now, to live as if the world, and the garden, have a future.

James Golden

Garden at Federal Twist



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