Favorite Gardening Quotations

Some of these may not be specifically gardening related, but appeal to this editor nonetheless…

A plant is the best decorative accessory.
~Interior decorator Tom Scheerer, interviewed by Jill Radsken for The Boston Globe, April 12, 2014

The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain!
~Dolly Parton

We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.
~Abraham Lincoln

I don’t think about retiring. I think about how I can keep singing for the rest of my life.
~Singing legend Johnny Mathis

It is inconceivable to me that anyone who can travel wouldn’t.
~Culinary adventurer and author Anthony Bourdain

Don’t take yourself too seriously.
~Letitia Baldridge, White House social secretary during Kennedy administration

The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary.
~Hair guru Vidal Sassoon

Killing dandelions should never be considered a good enough reason to utilize a toxic pesticide.
~Paul Tukey, www.SafeLawns.org/blog, Jan. 31, 2010

Grandchildren, poems, my garden….
~Julie Andrews, when asked to list a few of her favorite things, Parade Magazine, Dec. 27, 2009

I wonder if leaves feel lonely when they see their neighbors falling?
~John Muir, Naturalist and Preservationist

There is a myth that if you write about gardens you must have a perfect garden.
~Kate Copsey, Garden Writer, Nov. 14, 2008

… And though I garden in my leisure time, I have never considered gardening a leisurely activity…. Gardening isn’t for sissies or for legendary fashion mavens. And gardening isn’t something you do because you don’t have anything else to do….
~Susan Reimer, The Baltimore Sun, January 3, 2009

Plants and flowers of the commonest kind can form a pleasing diary, because nothing which calls back to us the remembrance of a happy moment can be insignificant.

Just be careful with whole-hearted planting of the newest cultivars, in case they develop problems down the road as our friend the Bradford did.
~Larry Caplan, Extension Educator in Horticulture at Purdue Univ. Cooperative Extension Service

If we persist, I do not doubt that by age 96 or so we will all have gardens we are pleased with, more or less.
~Henry Mitchell, 1923-1993, one of America’s best, and funniest, garden writers

As long as one has a garden, one has a future. As long as one has a future, one is alive.
~Frances Hodgson Burnett, “The Secret Garden”

Apart from painting and gardening, I’m not good at anything.
~Claude Monet

Plants are the real masters of the earth.
~Edward H. Faulkner, “Plowman’s Folly,” University of Oklahoma Press, 1943

I haven’t worn any gloves but garden gloves for a long time.
~Barbara May, of Wayland, Mass., 40th President of National Garden Clubs, Inc., as quoted by Carol Stocker in Boston Globe article 5/26/07, which ran the day before Mrs. May’s installation.

Oil allowed us to move off the farm and into the city, where we now eat food that is trucked in from over a thousand miles away. This leads some to ask, “Who will feed us when we run out of gas?”
~Michael Olson, Metrofarm.com e-mail, 5/24/07

Looking back doesn’t have to be painful.
~Chita Rivera, The Colonial Theatre, Boston, 5/2/07

I consider every plant hardy until I have killed it myself…at least three times.
~Tony Avent, Owner, Plant Delights Nursery

Watching the perpetual procession of birds to and from the feeders is one of the joys of the winter season.
~Suzanne Mahler, The Patriot Ledger, 2/22/07

In plants, the ends of the roots and shoots are always juvenile, always growing, always babies.
~Peter H. Raven, Director of the Missouri Botanical Garden

We’ve all had our humbling gardening experiences and will continue to have more, which is one of the best parts of the pursuit–there is always a plant about which to learn, a part of the garden to renew, or a technique to master.
~Sara Begg, Executive Editor, Horticulture Magazine, May 2007

If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant.
~Anne Bradstreet (1612-1672, Colonial American poet)

Everyone needs a mentor.
~Emeril Lagasse, Celebrity Chef

No Italian garden is complete without a few lemon trees.
~Ellen Wells, Member, Garden Writers Association

You have to allow life to play itself out.
~Actress Helen Mirren, to Barbara Walters, Academy Awards TV Special, 2007

Beware of invasive plants. Be advised that good nurseries sometimes sell bad plants.
~Eddie Rhoades, Member, Garden Writers Association

The olive tree is surely the richest gift of Heaven.
~Thomas Jefferson

Be happy today while you dream of the future. Today may be all we have.
~Howard…frequent contributor to the AOL gardening message boards, 4/30/06

By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.
~Benjamin Franklin

I must be farmer John … and nothing more (I hope nothing less) for the rest of my life.
~John Adams, 1/20/1801, on what he looked forward to doing once he returned to Quincy, Mass. following his presidency.

Sometimes some things happen for all the right reasons.
~Brian McGrory, The Boston Globe, 5/6/05

Beautiful foliage alone does not the great tomato make, though. Sigh.
~Dr. Carolyn Male, on the AOL Tomato Message Boards, 11/04/04

Beautiful nature matters more than beautiful people.
~Dana Bisbee, Society Editor, Boston Herald, 6/17/04

I was born in a lovely white house with a garden.
~Judy Garland, PBS Special, 2/28/04

You’re giving a part of yourself when you grow a plant and give it to somebody else.
~Art Scarpa, vice president of the Cactus and Succulent Society of Massachusetts as quoted by Rosemary Herbert, Boston Herald, 2/8/04

Newcomers are first sent to work in her garden; George Stephanopoulos might still be fertilizing her impatiens but for Bill Clinton’s victory in 1992….
~Brian McGrory, “Simply the best,” Boston Globe, 11/11/03, commenting on his journalist cousin Mary McGrory’s invited guests at one of her Sunday suppers.

So I sing to my seeds. What about it?
~Leslie Gaydos, NECN Anchor, 5/29/03

Gardening is something you learn by doing – and by making mistakes…. Like cooking, gardening is a constant process of experimentation, repeating the successes and throwing out the failures….
~Carol Stocker, “Stuff Happens,” Boston Globe Magazine, 4/13/03

Christopher Walken left the house again without weed-whacking his hair….
~Wesley Morris, Boston Globe, 3/24/03, commenting on the actor’s appearance at the previous evening’s Academy Awards Ceremonies.

I’m no good at cooking or music, but I’ve always known how to garden. Nobody ever taught me; I just absorbed it. Some families are churchgoers or sports fans. We gardened.
~Thalassa Cruso

Just living is not enough, said the butterfly. One must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower.
~Hans Christian Andersen

Quality means doing it right when no one is looking ….
~Henry Ford

Gardening is the slowest of the performing arts.

Most of us have done something really stupid in our lives ….
~Bill Shields, WBZ TV, Channel 4 Reporter, 11/12/02

If by some chance I woke up tomorrow morning with a crown on my head and a magic wand in my hand …. I would never pay farmers not to farm. Or dairymen not to raise cattle ….
~Beverly Beckham, “Paradise, if only in her dreams,” The Patriot Ledger, 8/9/02

Just because something is natural does not mean it is safer than something synthetic. Just ask Socrates. I’m sure he would have preferred a nice Diet Pepsi, aspartame and all!
~Anita, from Virginia (AOL Garden Boards contributor), 6/8/02

What you see when you look at a show poodle is animal topiary – great mounds of fussed-over curly hair shaped into various-size balls around the body.
~Vicki Croke, The Boston Globe, 2/16/02

Then again, if the plant is slow growing, and you are getting older, you may want to start with a larger plant. I find myself buying larger plants each year.
~Bill Cannon, “Garden Guide,” The Patriot Ledger, 2/7/02

If you rest, you rust.
~Actress Helen Hayes

Nobody seems to think it’s a good idea to mention mistakes, but I think it’s important to acknowledge the mistakes you’ve made in life, because it’s really through those that you learn things. I’ve made hundreds….
~Sir Andrew Lloyd-Webber, London Sunday Times, 1/13/02

Gardens will be the peaceful haven we all need.
~Paul Tukey, publisher, “People Likely to Garden More, Says Poll,” People, Places & Plants, Jan-Feb 2002

A gardener’s best tool is the knowledge from previous seasons. And it can be recorded in a $2 notebook.
~Andy Tomolonis, “Use Journal to Harvest Lessons of Experience,” Boston Sunday Herald, 12/30/01

For me, a garden is peace of mind. It immediately takes my mind off the thing I’m puzzling about in my work and gives me repose.
~Prof. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., historian, as quoted by Rosemary Herbert in “Weeding and Writing,” The Boston Herald, 6/3/01

My own attempts to grow this species have been unsuccessful, but on occasion handsome plantings have crossed my path [referring to Rose Daphne (Daphne cneorum)].
~Michael Dirr, “Dirr’s Hardy Trees and Shrubs” (Timber Press, 1997)

No man is an island, entire of itself. Every man is a piece of the continent; a part of the main.
~John Donne

… My garden is a balancing act between weeds and wonders. Though I started out as a frustrated perfectionist, over the years I’ve learned how to enjoy my garden rather than feel enslaved by it, thanks to a growing know-how and a change in mindset.
~Carol Stocker, “The Garden Writer’s Garden: What I have learned in 20 years of playing with nature,” The Boston Globe, 6/28/01

… if one considers Boston’s most successful open spaces, they all involve grass. The Common, the Esplanade and the Public Garden are, of course, covered with grass, each acting as an oasis from the steel and concrete around them. Grass is also integrated into Boston’s smaller open spaces, such as Copley Square, the Commonwealth Avenue Mall and Post Office Square.
~Thomas M. Keane, Jr., “Boston Grass Isn’t Always Greener,” The Boston Herald, 5/25/01

Probably not since Emperor Appius Claudius Caecus began the construction of the Appian Way in 312 B.C. has there been a highway construction as notable as the Central Artery Tunnel Project or as it is known with differing degrees of affection – The Big Dig …. Travelers still use and marvel at the Appian Way 2000 years later. One wonders if this project will have the same lasting value ….
~Paul Yovino, “Big Dig at Kiwanis,” The Milton Times, 5/24/01

Texture and foliage keep a garden interesting through the season. Flowers are just moments of gratification.
~Kevin Doyle, landscape designer, as quoted by Christine Temin, The Boston Globe, 5/17/01

[Weeds are plants that] without profit suck the soil’s fertility from wholesome flowers.
~William Shakespeare as quoted by PRNewswire, 3/10/01

… the plants arrive, usually on a day that is either raining or requires one’s presence elsewhere, work perhaps. Plant orders do not arrive on sunny, warm Saturday mornings.
~Steve Hatch, “For Both Garden and Gardener, It’s Time to Break Dormancy,” South Weekly, The Boston Sunday Globe, 3/25/01

It’s a guy thing to plant vegetables in your front flower bed, but then again, it’s also a guy thing to put them out back in a big rectangle. It’s a little radical to put them in front, a statement that you can do whatever you want in your own damn yard.
~Warren Schultz, “The Interview” by John Koch, The Boston Sunday Globe Magazine, 4/8/01

Salt’s a friend to the tomato.
~Roy Pannesi, host and chef, “Simply Italian”

… even the smallest landscape can offer pride of ownership not only to its inhabitants but to its neighbors. The world delights in a garden…. Creating any garden – big or small – is, in the end, all about joy.
~Julie Moir Messervy, “A Little Bit of Eden,” The Boston Globe Magazine, 4/8/01

Never go to a doctor whose office plants have died.
~Erma Bombeck as quoted in the May/June 2001 issue of Modern Maturity

The good Lord is sharing His sunshine with us, and allowed the president to have this [ceremony] in this wonderful, wonderful Rose Garden. These are memories that I’ll take with me.
~Representative J. Joseph Moakley on the occasion of President Bush signing a bill naming the federal courthouse at Boston’s Fan Pier in his honor, March 2001

Winter squashes are the forgotten vegetables…. Almost no vegetable is as easy to grow or keep. With fertile soil, full sun and ample water, vines take off. And after plants become established, they’re so carefree, it’s easy to forget them until fall when their rediscovery makes the harvest that much sweeter.
~Andy Tomolonis, Boston Sunday Herald, 3/11/01

If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.

As with all new science, genetic manipulation of seed DNA has possibilities for good and for evil. It depends on how it’s used and who controls it.
~Ruth S. Foster, Boston Sunday Globe, 01/28/01

The Mississippi River carries the mud of thirty states and two provinces 2,000 miles south to the delta and deposits 500 million tons of it there every year. The business of the Mississippi, which it will accomplish in time, is methodically to transport all of Illinois to the Gulf of Mexico.
~Charles Kuralt, A Life on the Road

US House Speaker Tip O’Neill used to say all politics is local, and the same must be said of gardening, where regional climate and soil patterns determine what will thrive and what will die. Besides, gardening is about developing a relationship with where you live, right down to the unique quality of the light, the acid in the rain, the rocks in the soil.
~Carol Stocker, The Boston Globe, 12/14/00

We are united with all life that is in nature. Man can no longer live his life for himself alone.
~Albert Schweitzer

Deep in the sun-searched growths
the dragonfly
Hangs like a blue thread loosened from
the sky.
~Dante Gabriel Rossetti, “Silent Noon”