The Clerestory Podcast S1 E25

The Oklahoma Tenant Farmer and Me
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The Art of Gardening

The gardener is an artist, a creator, and an architect.

A gardener is an artist because they create their garden in slow motion like a painter trying to get the colors right. A sculpture tries to chisel his work exquisitely. A gardener does the same thing with their garden.

The serenity in the garden sings to their soul.

Like any other form of art, gardening has to be mastered. You learn it as you are being taught. However the garden teaches you, it becomes the teacher. It will reprimand you like a stubborn pupil. If your mind poses a question to the garden, it will not give you a direct answer, rather it will challenge you to discover every dimension of the answer to your question. Once you finally figure it out the discovery will be of a miraculous nature. What is even more is how a garden amazes its creator.

When a garden is complete, its creator marvels at its beauty. Looking at it from afar, the gardener wonders how did they themselves create something so wonderful.

All of the marvelous plants of varying colors sprouting towards the sky, pointed towards the sun they seem to want to take flight at minute. Gardens are full of many layers, but each plant has its own unique story to tell. As you sit in the garden listening quietly to your own thoughts, you also hear the story of the garden being whispered to you in a small voice. Gardens are so full of life that you feel so alive in their midst.

At times the toil of laboring in a garden can be intense. Gardening is hard work, yet it is a worthy effort. Therefore people look forward to this work. For the dedicated gardener it becomes sort of a love affair.

Gardening is a work of art, and art takes hard work. When you see a breathtaking painting you know that someone put countless hours of work into its creation. A garden requires even more hours of labor. You have to work with the raw elements of nature. Insects can become either garden's enemy or its friend. As the steward of the garden you try to balance it all out.

So many elements of nature give the garden life, yet many other elements of nature attempt to suffocate the garden. Chief among these elements is the weeds. Weeding must be painstakingly done by hand. One has to be diligent while constantly pulling weeds making sure that they do not attempt to choke the life out of the plants you are growing. Look at the painted picture and see all of its layers. It took a lot of master strokes from the painter's hand to get it right. As equally beautiful, the sight of an exquisite garden should stop you in your tracks. Each row had to be nurtured, watered and carefully spaced apart at intervals. Seeds has to be carefully planted, etc. The garden has to get the right amount of light as well as sunshine. So many countless dynamics go into a garden's formation.

Like any other work of art, gardening is its own architecture. It is hand crafted. Designed from scratch, its blueprint is constructed on a parcel of earth. Its construction requires the gardener to take on many roles. Though uneducated in these various fields the gardener puts on the hat of an engineer, an ecologist, a botanist, a poet (a garden is poetic as it sings its own verses), a farmer, a mathematician, a biologist, etc. The science that the gardener learns from each of these disciplines allows them to make their garden into a work of art. A gardening school could never really teach you every facet of the art of gardening. A lot of it is learned through trial and error. Most of what you ultimately discover will be self taught. After you make your mistakes and learn along the way you will become a master of your garden. Once it is complete, it will take your breath away, not only from the hard work but ultimately because of its beauty and tranquility. You will marvel at your garden's beauty. Saying to yourself how beautiful it is, you will know in that moment that you have finally discovered the art of gardening.


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Bobby Bostic was sentenced to 241 years in prison for a robbery he committed in 1995, when he was 16 years old. During his 26 years in prison, he became a prolific writer and college graduate. Bobby's essays showcase his deep style of writing, which Bobby has developed under the very harsh conditions in a maximum security prison. Watch Bobby's recent interview on CBS This Morning and purchase Bobby's books. Bobby was granted parole in 2021 and will be released in November 2022.

Discover more from Bobby Bostic.