Stanley Kunitz on Gardens

I was given the book, The Wild Braid – A Poet Reflects on a Century in the Garden, by Stanley Kunitz.

It’s a collection of conversations and poems from 2002-2006 when Kunitz was in his mid-90s.  Yes…90s.

He writes about his garden and his poetry; with such lovely metaphors about life that, well, I felt compelled enough to post a few:


There’s that sense that unless something’s in bloom, nothing is going on; it’s dead in the garden.  People talk about a plant being “done” –“the salvia’s done for the season” — as if blooming is all a plant has to do.  That’s a complete fallacy and limitation. 

…you need the silence.  So much of the power of a poem is in what it doesn’t say as much as in what it does say.  As when a flower is preparing to bloom, or after it has bloomed, when it is suspending its strengths and its potency and is at rest — or seems to be, its mission to flower and to produce seed having been fulfilled. 

Almost anything you do in the garden, for example weeding, is an effort to create some sort of order out of nature’s tendency to run wild.  There has to be a certain degree of domestication in a garden.  The danger is that you can so tame your garden that it becomes a thing.  It becomes landscaping. 

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