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Report From An Opinionated Gardener – November 22

Gina, a regular reader of this blog, sent me a lovely email awhile back, and the subject line was from the play Camino Real by Tennessee Williams: “The violets in the mountains have broken the rocks.”

“How appropriate to C.L.’s writing!” Gina wrote, and I was touched by her thoughtfulness, and humbled by her willingness to connect that powerful line to this blog. Today, as I struggle with all of the stuff of life, I continue to be grateful for this email and the balm that the quote provides.

This country seems to be in a period when patience, gentleness and diversity are trampled as rightwing interests make a great noise in an attempt to prosper over anyone and everyone else. I want to believe that that the hard and seemingly immoveable will be shattered by something that’s small but beautiful and persistent.

Anyone who’s tried to remove violets from their lawns and gardens knows that although they seem gentle and delicate, they have roots and seeds that persevere against all forms of attack. Although I don’t want violets in my lawn, I do want to embrace those qualities myself. I hope to acknowledge and cultivate those ways that gentleness and compassion can persist over those that continue to protect and promote the most privileged, smug and greedy.

Whether you agree with my politics and beliefs or not, perhaps all of us can recognize that kindness and beauty are life affirming, and we can be united in our efforts to plant this in our lives.

The violets that I encourage in my gardens are Viola labradorica, or Labrador violets. They are also pretty tough plants, and do self seed around the garden, although I've never had them flourish in my lawn and driveway as the more common violets (V. sororia)do. Still, I remember fondly that when Eleanor Seaman gave me some Labrador violets from her garden she said, "Plant them where you can let them go and grow as they will." I'm longing to live in a world where patience and kindness grow and go as they will...

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