The trouble with gardening, however, is that once you’re in love—and I mean really in love—it’s for keeps. No amount of discouragement or unpropitious circumstance is going to uproot that mysterious tangle of delight and desire from your heart. Like all the great loves in history, love of gardening persists, often in the face of impossible odds. At unlooked-for times, and in unlooked-for ways, the passion ignites, and you remember what you knew as a girl: even if the end result doesn’t live up to the promise—even if the promise is unattainable this side of heaven—the desire itself is sweet enough to make up for it.

What’s more, the thing the promise points to is real, and your effort to incarnate it in an orderly vegetable patch or a flowerbed of flaming color is to claim a bit of Eden on a weed-choked, hard-crusted old earth still dreaming of a beautiful past and a redeemed future.

You rejoice to find that neither drought, nor busyness, nor squash vine borers have power to snuff out that original spark, and that a seed catalogue, or a fleck of green on an otherwise dead-looking hydrangea cutting can still summon a quick rush of tears. Of all things.

Lanier Ivester