A True Gardener


“I was an organic gardener by then and knew the value of the good bugs in my landscape, but the epiphany wasn’t about that. It was about how I suddenly needed to start paying closer attention to all the life in my own undergrowth. Instead of watching it on TV, I began to acknowledge the incredible fascinating insects living right outside my backdoor. In the years subsequent to my slug-sex revelation, I did a whole lot of reading and research, and I learned that each and every insect in my garden has a story just as enthralling as those slugs. I quickly came to appreciate the charisma of the insect world, and its presence revealed to me that there’s far more to my garden than just the plant kingdom.”

-Jessica Walliser; attracting beneficial bugs to your garden, 2014

Good Day or He!

As I get older and work as a Gardener over these many years, I’m finding it necessary to draw attention to the difference of a Gardener as opposed to Landscaper. I think I understand why so many Americans are clueless to the difference or even what a Gardener IS. In this day & age of Instant Gratification & Surface “Job Done” Landscapers have a “Leg Up” on “Beauty” & sometimes at less cost than what a True Gardener can offer but that’s all.

You’re probably wondering why I make the distinction between a Gardener & a True Gardener. Long before I became a Master Gardener and a Gardener for other people, I was a Gardener. I had worked in the community gardens at Akwesasne and maintained my own vegetable gardens since 1980. I was one of the first Organic Vegetable Gardeners distributing to Health Food restaurants & stores long before it was common knowledge. There are many Gardeners out there who are good at that craft but . . . 

When one Gardens for others things change a little. If you don’t bring integrity to the work you do as a Gardener for others as well as for yourself you are not a True Gardener. For me, I had a lot to learn because now I was expected to Garden knowledgably in Perennial Beds, prune shrubs, plant &/or Raise-Up trees, design gardens & more. Throughout the Growing Seasons 2004 through 2006 I worked for a commercial garden company and in 2007 I took the required courses to become a Master Gardener. That still did not make me a True Gardener.

I had the great fortune to work side by side with a True Gardener who hired me after the previously mentioned garden company fired me because I became a School Bus Driver. Fran was not only a True Gardener but along with her husband, Lee, magnificent Human Beings.

Those who know & respect me as your Gardener will have Dahlias planted on your grounds if you chose. These Dahlias are from the original Rhizomes Fran gave me before she died many years ago. These Dahlias are also a statement that I, Little Tree, am your Gardener & the Tradition of me as your Gardener continues with planting these Dahlias in late Spring, tending to them during the Summer, cutting the tops down after the first strong Frost, digging them up & storing the Rhizomes through the Winter.

A True Gardener is responsible to keep order, harmony between all living Beings in your gardens, that includes the soil, as well as Healthy & Happy Beds/Plants. To do this a True Gardener not only has to have volumes of knowledge or how to obtain information but also has to be at peace with the work they do in your gardens. This is why a True Gardener is never, ever in a hurry. A True Gardener takes time to communicate not only with the plants in your gardens/beds but with all the other Beings that share that environment. So not only do I take time to talk with the plants but spiders, ants, wasps, worms, birds, caterpillars/their counterparts; moths or butterflies and many more.

When I become the Gardener at a new place there is usually a lot of work/catching up to be done. Rarely does that happen in one season. A True Gardener understands this & sees where your gardens can evolve to. Most True Gardeners are such, not for the money, as for peace, independence, solemnness and pace.

Stay well, Wanishi,
Little Tree

-Story contributed by Bob L.T.

Photos Show

Fran's main garden bed

Fran's main garden bed

View from the front [View Additional File Details]

Cite this Page

“A True Gardener,” Community of Gardens, accessed February 25, 2024, https:/​/​communityofgardens.​si.​edu/​items/​show/​12410.​
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