Cultivating Wildness by Evelyn Hadden

wildness - 2

A colorful patch of wildness in my garden, featuring echoing clumps of Geum ‘Totally Tangerine’, coarse foliage of Salvia transylvanica, bearded iris, low orange wallflowers (Erysimum ‘Coral Glow’), and pale foliage of Artemisia stelleriana ‘Silver Brocade’.

I became a gardener in order to experience nature daily, in order to live in a wilder way. Being wild is the opposite of being isolated. It is an experience of oneness with a vast, complex, diverse, accepting community of living plants and animals.

Isolation is sitting motionless in a climate-controlled, artificially lit house, staring at a screen, oblivious to the life being lived around me – the spider in the corner, the ants building kingdoms under the patio stones, the dove weaving a nest in the pine tree on the corner, the fox snuggled with her kits in a den down by the river, the desert shrub seedling sinking its roots into the soil of the neighbor’s horse pasture, the massive 500-year-old oak that was just felled two miles away to make room for a new subdivision.

My garden is part of my struggle against isolation. I choose not to be cut off from all that other life. I take time every day to actively experience what I think of as The Real World.

I’m aware that it’s a rare luxury to be able to spend periods of time ignoring the human-centered world of intangibles: rules of etiquette, monetary systems, streams of data. I am thankful every day that I have the freedom to regularly remove myself from it and to bask in the stream of sensory events happening in The Real World.


Cultivating Wildness originally appeared on Garden Rant on May 4, 2016.


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