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  • suzannenorquist

What Is It About Gardens?

Updated: Jul 12, 2020

I love parks and gardens, although I’m not patient enough to grow flowers or vegetables myself. I gave up on indoor plants years ago, saying I had enough living things to take care of. I didn’t need another one.

The rowhouses in Philadelphia sit in the shadow of the skyscrapers, yet window boxes and potted plants abound.

These displays take over most of the sidewalk.

I’m not sure what to make of the mismatched tall plants flanking this door.

In Philadelphia, they don’t need to plant in special containers. These pictures of alleyways show what happens naturally. But no one wants greenery to take over like this. Instead they turn vegetation into works of art.

All the homes with potted gardens are an easy walk from a city greenbelt. But no matter how many trees and flowers live in nature or how close a city park is, people want to tend their own plants.

Why is that?

Perhaps it’s something primal. A faint echo of the hunter-gatherer mentality. Growing up, I spent summers on my grandmother’s farm. Each morning we weeded the garden and picked the vegetables for the day. I would eat plumbs and apples straight from the trees in the orchard.

But most of the gardens I see don’t grow food. They are decorative. And, why aren’t vegetables decorative? Last year, something sprouted in my garden that looked like corn. Curious, I let it grow.

Sure enough. Corn.

One of my Facebook friends speculated that a squirrel pooped out a corn kernel in the garden. A distinct possibility.

Not only do we plant gardens outside. Indoor gardens exist as well. I visited the fanciest hotel ever, and the common areas resembled a “fake outside.” Carefully tended vegetation filled the space. Not a bug to be found and no dirt out of place.

I wondered about the purpose of “fake outside” until I stepped into “real outside” on a sweltering August day in Nashville. I went right back into the artificial (comfortable) environment.

Less fancy hotels decorate with large potted plants.

And smaller ones grace homes. My daughter received a plant as a gift, and her attitude is like mine. Too much work. She put it in the window and waited for it to die. After several months when it didn’t die, she found out her husband was watering it.

I guess I shouldn’t comment on other’s people’s gardens. I live in a desert, yet roses and non-native plants grace my patio, creating an oasis for bees and birds. I don’t tend it, but my husband does.

And recently, I filled my home with silk greenery and metal plants.

I don’t know why they make me happy, but they do. I suppose the same thing is true for the owners of the sidewalk gardens in the shadows of the skyscrapers.

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