Garden and Library

Classes are done and I am free to work on all the projects and things I’ve put off during the school year. Or free to wander the stacks at our public library and check out books like I’ve got hours to read. Because now I do. Or draw.

I thought of the oft-cited Cicero quotation about how if you’ve got a library and a garden you’ve got everything you need. Here’s a blog post from a bibliophile who says this is the literal translation:

“If you have a garden in your library”, he wrote to Varro, “everything will be complete.” 

(Cic. Fam. 9.4)

I’m for gardens coming into libraries too, even if that language is less Instagrammy than the more common translations. Gardens in all the spaces, please. Or, as our northern corner of the state tilts ever so slowly towards the sun, libraries and scholarly work moved out into the garden.

To that end, I am once again thinking about how to grow things that make our yard more and more like a garden room. With that in mind, and with the relative freedom of no classes running now, it was lovely to wander the library stacks and marvel at the many, many books about gardening. I left with four: a month-by-month guide to midwest gardening (that I may already have read), a thoroughly cited book on edible and medicinal wild plants of the midwest, a book on perennial gardening in the midwest, and, my favorite for the title and cover typography, a book on hellstrip gardening.

There’s something moving to me in the research and patience of designing with, planting, and tending perennial plants, natives especially. I look forward to seeing this year how things planted last year will progress and fill in. So far the beebalm is slow to grow; the asparagus is twisty and tortured looking; the stinging nettle appears only where I don’t want it; tiny, ruffled, volunteer poppy seedlings are taking over my raised bed; and the strawberries continue their slow, stealthy colonization of all the garden paths and beds. In the coming weeks, I’ll watch for the lacy sprouts of volunteer cosmos, any growth at all on the clematis that may really be dead this year, and the late, late arrival of butterfly weed (or pleurisy root!), a brilliant native wildflower. I love it all.

Author: Katie

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