Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Is gardening is a luxury?

Came across this quotation from the great English gardener Vita Sackville-West while clearing out files today:

Gardening is a luxury occupation; an ornament, not a necessity, of life. The farmer is not at all concerned with the eventual beauty of his corn as a feature in the landscape, though, indeed, he gets a certain satisfaction out of it, as he leans against his gate on a summer evening, and sees his acres gently curving to the breeze. Still, beauty is not his primary aim; the gardener's is. Fortunate gardener, who may preoccupy herself solely with beauty in these difficult and ugly days! She is one of the few people left in this distressful world to carry on the tradition of elegance and charm. A useless member of society, considered in terms of economics, she must not be denied her rightful place. She deserves to share it, however humbly, with the painter and the poet.

-Vita Sackville-West, from Country Notes


  1. Sounds like a quote rooted in a particular time though not untelling in ours. I get from it the division of the edible vs. the non-edible (many of my food crops are attractive), the idea of civilization / cultivation and beauty versus the dogged life of a farmer or pragmatism. And of course a justification of a personal love of the writer. Don't we all justify our passions however useless?

    Thanks for the quote.

  2. "Fortunate gardener, who may preoccupy herself solely with beauty in these difficult and ugly days!"

    I don't know about "may"... seems to me that it's more of a "must," a compulsion, a way of life. We could no more ignore that part of us than a writer could ignore the pen or a painter the brush...


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