Seedwise: Instruments of Grace

by Ken Greene

I enjoy finding quotes that inspire me, challenge me, and remind me not just how to garden, but why I garden. Each week I'll choose one to share with you that you can pass on to your gardening friends. If you have favorite quotes let me know and I'll add them to my growing garden of quotes!

This week's quote:


"Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature, is a help. Gardening is an instrument of grace." May Sarton

Yesterday I went out to work in the garden--head down, tools in tow, and a to-do list scrolling in front of my eyes. When I kneeled to begin yanking weeds, I stopped as a single white feather drifted into the white yarrow crowns and was caught--along with my attention. It was a quiet moment, light in feeling, grounded in meaning. This beautiful distraction, in the form of a feather, gave me enough pause to reflect, become more aware of my surroundings, and be grateful for having a garden at all.

Gardening is about more than the end product. It's about the experience. Sometimes instruments of grace are unexpected moments, like a drifting feather, a hummingbird moth that holds still, or a toad that blends in so well you know it's there but keep losing track of it. If we rush through our gardens, as we rush through other parts of our busy lives, we can miss out on the healing part of gardening: slowing down.

What we carry with us into the garden, both in our heads and in our hands, can profoundly affect the process of growing. So, sometimes "instruments" of grace are also the right tools. I appreciate the quietness of hand tools that help me connect with the garden rather than separate me from the earth. I enjoy tools that make sounds that work in concert with the sounds of the field and forest: snips and scratches and drips. I value tools that are multifunctional so I'm not constantly shuffling what's in my hands, or worse, wasting time walking back to the barn to hunt for the right tool. I choose tools that are ergonomic, so that I can focus on the plants and not my joints. And I'm hoping I'm not the only one who likes tools that are as beautiful as they are functional so that they don't clash with the natural beauty of being outdoors.

More than anything, I want tools that make the work of gardening a bit easier, so that I'm able to notice the slow circles of nature and moments of grace in the garden.

So, as we've been adding tools to our catalog, we've kept this quote in mind. We hope that our weekly quotes, along with the right instruments in the form of seeds, tools, and art, help you settle, in mind and body, into the cycles of your garden.