A Different Kind of Culture: a Spring Garden!


“Pleasure, talk, a garden, and the spring time. That is all I need.”

14th century Persian poet Hafez.

   For some of us, this is the most exciting time of year when every morning, gray or shine, we head into the outdoors to see what has bloomed last night, what has grown, what has re-appeared we had forgotten about.

Those few minutes spent in the quiet, revering in total awe of what Mother Nature is showing for our appreciative pleasure. For a brief moment, forget about the world’s woes and commune with our amniotic environment.

According to a number of holy books, the garden (of Eden, of God) was the original paradise (from the Persian word for a walled in garden/small orchard) one that, unfortunately, was lost but not for all of us!

To this day, a garden connotes shared produce with our friends and neighbors, plants and cuttings from far away, signs of friendship that now blossom forever, the smell of fresh dirt just dug up or recently blessed by a morning rain. In my case, this is the place where neighborhood kids would play hide and seek among bamboos and banana plants they would nickname “the jungle”. While all have grown but left behind great memories, more recently our neighbors’ grandchildren fill up their cheeks, chipmunk-like, with sun warmed cherry tomatoes and smile knowing this is a very special in their young life, a freedom unequalled anywhere else.

What better place to appreciate the change of seasons?

Right now, the first days of spring, every morning is a discovery of bulbs buried last fall showing (if they have survived the squirrels) their fantastic colors: wild tulips from far away Turkey, daffodils hated by deer but loved by poets “When all at once I saw a crowd, -A host, of golden daffodils;-Beside the lake, beneath the trees,-Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.” (WILLIAM WORDSWORTH). Soon they’ll be followed by self-seeded larkspurs, poppies, corn flowers and perennials lilies, daisies, cone flowers.

Flower with bees

For most, summer is the best time to appreciate because of harvest such as strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, fresh corn, beans, crunchy cucumbers and, above all, that still warm from the sun tomato that does not make it to the house, savored right there where it grew. Sunflowers are among my favorites for their wild colors, shapes and sizes (no longer your grandma’s monochromatic yellow) followed by tens of gold finches eager to snack on those seeds. It is also a time for butterflies but, to my chagrin, their numbers have shrunk even in a garden like mine geared for their survival.


Fall is the time for all small fruit like figs and grapes, the time when you call on your jam-making friends to give you a hand before the garden slowly goes to sleep under the first frost while the gardener starts dreaming about next year’s growth, with new varieties to grow and some favorites to repeat. We gardeners are dreamers, always living six months or more ahead of our own time, always planning for what is to come.

For those who do not have their own piece of land to appreciate, you can always do like my friend Anne and paint someone else’s:


Roland Menestres (OLLI Member and Instructor)

For those who would like to see more pictures: https://thisweekinthegarden-roland.blogspot.com