The glory of the garden

I saw this very sweet piece of garden sculpture in Regent’s Park a couple of weeks ago, and it made me think about gardens and gardeners – which led me to Rudyard Kipling’s poem.

Rudyard Kipling

Our England is a garden that is full of stately views,
Of borders, beds and shrubberies and lawns and avenues,
With statues on the terraces and peacocks strutting by;
But the Glory of the Garden lies in more than meets the eye.

For where the old thick laurels grow, along the thin red wall,
You will find the tool- and potting-sheds which are the heart of all;
The cold-frames and the hot-houses, the dungpits and the tanks:
The rollers, carts and drain-pipes, with the barrows and the planks.

And there you’ll see the gardeners, the men and ‘prentice boys
Told off to do as they are bid and do it without noise;
For, except when seeds are planted and we shout to scare the birds,
The Glory of the Garden it abideth not in words.

And some can pot begonias and some can bud a rose,
And some are hardly fit to trust with anything that grows;
But they can roll and trim the lawns and sift the sand and loam,
For the Glory of the Garden occupieth all who come.

Our England is a garden, and such gardens are not made
By singing, “Oh, how beautiful!” and sitting in the shade,
While better men than we go out and start their working lives
At grubbing weeds from gravel-paths with broken dinner-knives.

There’s not a pair of legs so thin, there’s not a head so thick,
There’s not a hand so weak and white, nor yet a heart so sick.
But it can find some needful job that’s crying to be done,
For the Glory of the Garden glorifieth every one.

Then seek your job with thankfulness and work till further orders,
If it’s only netting strawberries or killing slugs on borders;
And when your back stops aching and your hands begin to harden,
You will find yourself a partner in the Glory of the Garden.

Oh, Adam was a gardener, and God who made him sees
That half a proper gardener’s work is done upon his knees,
So when your work is finished, you can wash your hands and pray
For the Glory of the Garden, that it may not pass away!
And the Glory of the Garden it shall never pass away!

I particularly like the bit that goes: “…such gardens are not made/by singing ‘Oh how beautiful!’ and sitting in the shade …”

It also led me to celebrate the old-fashioned heavily-scented roses that I buy most Sundays in Marylebone Farmers’ Market – and here’s the latest bunch. (And the last one for a while; we’re off on holiday until mid-September.)

And, so as not to discount flowers of the more random variety, here is a photo of a wild untended corner at our community gardens. Love ‘em all, that’s my motto.

Our veggie garden’s production this year has certainly been affected by the weather: the autumn-planted broad beans were brilliant but all the later crops (apart from the potatoes) haven’t done as well. And speaking of potatoes, this year we planted five different varieties and all of them have cropped well – but one variety (and we don’t know which) produces potatoes that dissolve in the cooking water! If any readers of this blog know which one it might be could you let me know, so that we can avoid that one in future years? The varieties we planted are: Red Duke of York (obviously we know it isn’t that one), Pentland, Julien, Premiere, and Colleen. For some reason my money’s on Colleen as the culprit – maybe because I don’t think we’ve had that one before.

More Tuesday Poems — from the New Zealand, Italy, the UK, the USA and Australia — can be found here.

7 Responses to “The glory of the garden”

  1. Mary Tapissier Says:

    I have been thinking on and off for a while that I should re-read Kipling.
    Italian veggies too have been badly affected by the weather – too much sun and no water. Many keen vegetable growers, including our mutual friend, Brian, have abandoned their watering of tomatoes, zucchini, aubergine and cucumbers. Olives are the priority now for slender water supplies. Dear oh dear. And I stopped weeding so that the bees and butterflies had something to see them through. Weeds don’t seem to need water! Xx

  2. admin Says:

    And our veggies were badly affected by too much water and no sun! Who’d be a farmer, eh?

  3. Lucille Says:

    I can hear Pam Eyres reading that and that is not meant to denigrate. I have a lot of time for her.

  4. Lucille Says:

    Ayers I should say.

  5. Lucille Says:

    Third time lucky. Ayers. I’ll get my coat.

  6. Lucille Says:

    I’ll make it spell her name right if it kills me. Ayres.

  7. admin Says:

    You win! I knew you would.

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