putterings       170   <   171   >   172       index

all so pleasantly gardeny; a dead twig

His authority may even be pruned away by your own activities until he is but a puttering convention, but he remains, smelling of earth, always talking of other places...

ex Florida Pier (1883-1979), “People with Gardens” in her near-weekly column (1908-1913) “The Gentler View,” Harper’s Weekly (Advertiser section; November 5, 1910) : 32
link at hathitrust
same (University of Michigan) scan at google : link

entire —

      No one can possibly feel about your garden as you do, and you, with the most amiable of intentions, cannot be intimately enthusiastic about the garden of another person. One is envious in visiting an alien garden, or proud and filled with unholy satisfaction at its inferiority to one’s own; one may decide to imitate and ask questions as to ways and means, but no one with a garden loves the garden of another, and the walking around that is always done is a hollow pretence at mutual enjoyment, planned to cover the inability on the part of the owner to restrain his desire to show off, in spite of the fact that he knows his guest to come only because he hopes to have his turn later on. It is a placing in the bank credit for having played audience, to be drawn on at one’s first need of an audience of one’s own.
      A gardenless person is not taken into account. He can stroll through any garden, his soul unruffled, a cool but surely most unsatisfactory delight taken in the detached fact of its being all so pleasantly gardeny. But the fire of ambition and passion following frustration of a deeply involved gardener is a thing unknown to him. It is even boresome to read of gardens. The writer is gloomily aware of this. To those who are without gardens the subject is blankly uninteresting, and the enthusiasm of the writer weven proving slightly irritating, while to those who have gardens, generalizations and rhapsodies are tantalizing, when what they want is a definite, specialized anwer to their particular quandary. The multitude of things written about gardens, none of which are ever read, is but a proof of the irrepressibleness of gardeners in general, and the need that is upon them of saying their say, of droning, with the warm dulness of a loaded bee, of the gardens that are, were, and will be. For it is never alone the garden before his eyes that a visitor is expected to be interested in; he must also realize the state the place was in before the changes were made, and the Eden it will be when the contemplated plans are carried out. This is a most embarrassing point for all concerned, because the visitor cannot picture precisely what his gardening host wants him to, or enthuse loudly over what he fails to conceive, and the poor host — it is so hard on him! He knows he is boring everybody; he wishes he could remain silent, but he knows he cannot, and sheepishly, unhappily, yet keenly and excitedly, he explains at length that ivy will cover all that in eight or ten years, “and here we intend to have a thorn hedge, with a double border of violas running straight down that path —“ and it only when he realizes that no one is listening to him and that he is becoming more objectionably wearisome every minute that he stops with a shamed mumble and picks off a dead twig that no one else would have seen, and, patting the flowers on their heads and straightening out the ruffles of the rhododendra, he contents himself with silent communing.
      Then there is the gardener. There is something souring or deadening in being a professional gardener. If he is cross, he is the crossest of men, and the flowers have a hectored look as though they grew from fright, while the family sneaks through the garden on tiptoe and flushes quietly if caught gazing at its own shrubs. On the other hand, if a gardener is stuid, he reaches a clod-like epitome of stupidity that makes him a curiosity among men. Such people are “gomerels.” All gardeners are “gomerels” — those who are not were intended for any other work. They must be constantly circumvented. They cannot be disobeyed, for even in one’s own garden one must not flaunt one’s rights in the gardener’s face, and as they always croak dreadful prophecies of what will happen if you do as you intend to do, it is necessary to agree with them, then carry out your original intentions with the smallest possible degree of difference; and the flaming blloms that result a re a point made and recognized in the silent, subtle war carried on between you and the “gomerel,” who, by the way, is never discharged. He may fade away and be replaced by another much like him, but these are akin to the changes brought about by the seasons. A definite discharge for stupidity is unheard of. It would be like asking a tree to walk out of your avenue because it shed its leaves. It may be cut to the ground by proving him in the wrong and making him live with his failures, or he may be propped up with assistants in the shape of young boys. His authority may even be pruned away by your own activities until he is but a puttering convention, but he remains, smelling of earth, always talking of other places where he “had a sight more glass,” a reproving presence, but an integral part of the garden.

the last paragraph rather ill-tempered —

Gomeril, also gomeral, gommerel, gowmeril, &c.,
A fool, blockhead, stupid fellow, a simpleton, half-wit...
see Joseph Wright, The English Dialect Dictionary vol. 2 (1898) : 675 (link)

29 August 2022