“…the care of the earth is our most ancient and most worthy, and after all, our most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of it, and to foster its renewal, is our only legitimate hope.” – Wendell Berry, The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays
In these shortened days and lengthened nights, I feel the stirrings of my imagination take root. Winter for a gardener is a time of planning and rest. As I process seeds in the dry and warmth of the greenhouse I daydream and plan for the year ahead. I gently check on the cuttings of dogwood and rose, hoping to see roots. Outside, the garden is stirring with buds swelling on plants, and daffodil shoots peeking out of the soil. The blooms of hellebores nod in the wind, reminding me to seek the details, to be present in these moments of beauty. I see it in the snowdrops growing and in the lichen that layers the limbs of trees.
Winter planning is vital for a garden, a time when leaves have dropped, and the skeleton of the garden is exposed. Seeing the framework for the garden at this time allows us to understand what works and what we can improve. A garden is always evolving, changing in its own course and with the whims of the gardener. Often I am out hiking or kayaking and inspiration will hit me. I finally understand where a plant should be moved or which element of the garden to tweak to mirror the harmony found in nature.
With less daylight, I find my time outside limited, instead I have been turning the pages of gardening books taking inspiration from my peers and mentors. Beyond the inspiration I find in the physical form of their gardens, it’s the philosophy that draws me, one that advocates nurturing wildlife and beauty. The gardens that attract me are unruly spaces that have seeded themselves and teeter on the edge of wildness. They express a chaotic artistic vision, vibrant with joy and fearlessness. These gardens are a reminder that gardens are not meant to be perfect spaces but alight with life and functionality.
Gardens show us how to live. Just as we garden with joy and love, so should we walk through this world. Seeking to create beauty, in whatever form, is not a worthless task. Beauty in an ecosystem is often an indicator of health, it is a way to show the earth we care. With this in mind, as I plan for the spring ahead, I remind myself that it is our responsibility to care for that which nourishes us. I take on this responsibility with joy and love, taking the seed of the knowledge “to farm like an artist” and planting it into the heart of my garden from which all else will grow.
Farm to Table
This month, our tasting room menu features the following items from the Brooks Estate Garden: herbs, leeks, squash, and beets.