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  • Flowers and gardens have become a passion for me. As one who has worked in the past as a professional interpretive naturalist, I often find myself contemplating why it is that people garden, especially flower gardens as opposed to the more pragmatic vegetable gardens.

    I believe it is for the same reason that humans keep pets. There is a great need in many of us to feel a connection, however tenuous, to the natural world. To our primal beginnings when we lived in the out-of-doors rather than just visited it. As humanity became more and more disconnected from the natural world and spent more and more time enclosed in human-made structures, I believe the desire to retain some of that connection grew. Pets and gardens afford us that ability. Even the most urban apartment dweller can bring some of the natural world in through their pets and the plants in their windowsill.

    Flower gardens allow us to enjoy what once our ancestors could only gaze upon in awe. Prior to the habitat destruction wrought by humans and their domestic animals, blooming plants carpeted woodlands, prairies and other ecosystems throughout the world. Though there are still many areas where the profusion of flowers can still be seen, it is the exception rather than the norm in most of the world. How many nature lovers have not looked on a wildflower preserve in full springtime bloom and not wished they could have such beauty surround their own home? Gardens allow us to do that if we have the time, space, money and motivation. Even a pot of flowers on the window ledge let us dream of fields of poppies when we look on it.

    Gardens also appeal to those who like the idea of "one-upping" nature. Who think that they can do it even better. Thus the endless fascination of hybridization of flowers (and domestic crops and animals). Love that poppy that you saw growing alongside the road? Well, now you can get it in a variety of colors and double blooms! Tired of flowers that fade after a week in bloom? Why not get the variety that blooms all season long! Nature; only better, bigger, more colorful!

    I garden because I do love blooming plants. I too crave the wonder of seeing their color and variety of forms close by where I can view them at my leisure. I also find great comfort and inner peace when I tend to my garden. The plants become like children. I talk to them, sing to them, fuss over them like a mother. I enjoy seeing the gardens of others for inspiration and for the sheer delight of seeing even more flowers.

    So it is that on any given day in good weather or ill, you are likely to find me, pruners in hand, tending to my garden. If not pruning, watering and in general fussing over it, I will most likely be sitting and gazing at it from a bench or even sitting on the ground.

    As Van Morrison put it: "Come into my garden and look at the flowers. We can just sit and talk for hours and hours..."
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