Wherever there is soil, plants grow and produce their kind, and all plants are interesting; when a person makes a choice as to what plants he shall grow in any given place, he becomes a gardener or a farmer; and if the conditions are such that he cannot make a choice, he may adopt the plants that grow there by nature, and by making the most of them may still be a gardener or a farmer in some degree. Every family, therefore, may have a garden. If there is not a foot of land, there are porches or windows. Wherever there is sunlight, plants may be made to grow; and one plant in a tin-can may be a more helpful and inspiring garden to some mind than a whole acre of lawn and flowers may be to another. The satisfaction of a garden does not depend on the area, nor, happily, on the cost or rarity of the plants. It depends on the temper of the person. One must first seek to love plants and nature, and then to cultivate the happy peace of mind that is satisfied with little. In the vast majority of cases a person will be happier if he has no rigid and arbitrary notions, for gardens are moodish, particularly with the novice. If plants grow and thrive, he should be happy; and if the plants that thrive chance not to be the ones that he planted, they are plants nevertheless, and nature is satisfied with them. We are wont to covet the things that we cannot have; but we are happier when we love the things that grow because they must. A patch of lusty pigweeds, growing and crowding in luxuriant abandon, may be a better and more worthy object of affection than a bed of coleuses in which every spark of life and spirit and individuality has been sheared out and suppressed. The man who worries morning and night about the dandelions in the lawn will find great relief in loving the dandelions. Each blossom is worth more than a gold coin, as it shines in the exuberant sunlight of the growing spring, and attracts the insects to its bosom. Little children like the dandelions: why may not we? Love the things nearest at hand; and love intensely. If I were to write a motto over the gate of a garden, I should choose the remark that Socrates is said to have made as he saw the luxuries in the market, "How much there is in the world that I do not want!"
Source: Manual of Gardening, A Practical Guide to the Making of Home
Grounds and the Growing of Flowers, Fruits, and Vegegables for Home
Use. By L.H. Bailey, 1910. Available as a free, online etext provided
by the Gutenberg Project