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Gardening at Ninety

Articles: Gardening at Ninety

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 useful job that’s crying to be done,

For the Glory of the Garden glorifieth everyone.
Rudyard Kipling, “Glory of the Garden”

As I kneel on the grass to plant daffodils for next spring, I wonder if I shall be here to see them. I am now ninety—well beyond the allotted three-score years and ten—yet I have never wondered this before. Is it an omen? Or is it just that my well-honed skill of denial is now wearing thin? As the saying goes “Denial is not a river . . .” At this point, my dog Sheba, lying by my side, opens one eye and looks at me in skeptical fashion.

The garden does seem larger than the one I decried as “too small” when we first came here. It is so different now that the overwhelming rhododendrons are gone, and there are more flowerbeds and less lawn. It is really my own, but can I keep it like this? Other gardeners that I know of similar age are concentrating on developing “low maintenance” gardens, but I have always felt the whole idea of low maintenance to be a fantasy and have given the time-saving concep...

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