Gardening Against All Odds | Letter from the Editor

Fine Gardening – Issue 218
Oh so cute, but oh so destructive. Here’s the latest challenge to my garden, as seen from the kitchen window.

Do all gardeners secretly think they’ve got it the worst? For instance, because I garden in New England, I feel like the glacial till (aka unbelievably rocky soil) and massively unpredictable spring weather make my gardening more of a challenge than, say, that of gardeners living in Seattle. But is that true? Probably not.

Over the years I’ve heard lots of folks in horticulture refer to gardening as an act of resistance. To me, that has always seemed to have a negative connotation; I like to think about my hobby as an act of working within the bounds of nature to create something beautiful and beneficial. But after a recent stint of nine weeks without rain and the arrival of a vole army on my garden’s doorstep, I’m coming around to the whole idea of resistance—or more accurately, defiance.

Perhaps that’s why I loved reading the interview with Susan Burke and Julie Jordin, who garden on the island of Nantucket off the coast of Massachusetts. What could be more idyllic than creating luscious beds and borders in that location? Turns out that it’s not so idyllic after all. Harsh winds, salt spray, storm erosion, herds of deer, and a rabbit population torn from the pages of Watership Down? No thanks. I’ll take my late frosts and voles any day over that scenario. 

Yet the landscape that Susan and Julie have crafted is a seaside masterpiece, filled with frothy cottage-garden vibes. It would be beautiful no matter where it was located, but the fact that it was created in a place so punishing to plants is remarkable. This, my friends, is gardening as an act of resistance. And I’m here for it.

We’re about to mark the summer solstice, and I’m looking forward to moving away from my “working in the garden” phase and into my “enjoying the garden” phase. Ninety-degree weather makes mulching a dreadful task, and I’d much rather be sitting on the patio and enjoying the view of my act of resistance instead of actively resisting. But just as I went to flip the switch into summer mode, I noticed some daylilies with suspicious damage. The deer have moved off into deeper wooded areas by now, and these nibbles were aboveground, so I couldn’t blame Vinny the vole or his cohorts. A day or two later I spied the perpetrator from my kitchen window—a rabbit. 

And where there’s one, there are bound to be more. We haven’t hit Watership Down levels yet, but I’m already crafting an email to Susan and Julie to get some mitigation advice—or at least a pep talk about the value of continuing to resist.

Danielle SherryDanielle Sherry, Executive Editor

[email protected]



Issue 218 is available to read now!


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