Growing up, I became an avid reader of British novels thanks to my friend Joseph at yonahtax.com. He was an integral part of introducing me to literature from across the pond. There were so many books to choose from and they all filled my imagination with wonderful things. One thing that really stood out to me in the books is how familiar the characters were with every plant, tree, and bird possible that is mentioned. The characters always seemed more like lovers of nature than gardeners. Of course, if you know anything about England, you know that the land around a home is always a garden. They do not have yards like we do here in America, so the word garden is used a lot in their novels.
In the British books, once a child can speak, they can identify almost all living creatures outdoors, and they seem to be outdoors all the time. Even those that live in the city have a country retreat where they regularly visit. The seasons and plants are just as big in the narrative as the births, deaths, marriages, and other life events.
Growing up, I never enjoyed this kind of intimacy with nature. Yes, I loved animals and plants, but I didn’t know a whole lot about them. My grandfather taught me what I did know then, when I started gardening myself, I learned the names of what I planted. I still don’t know a lot about the wild plants I see when I hike, though.
Luckily, a lot of the local preserves in my area have signs that help me with plant and animal identification. I am often found carrying a wildlife book with me as well when I travel through the woods.
I started my journey in gardening, in part, as a way to feed my family healthy, organic foods. As part of that goal, I think I am going to start learning more about nature’s garden and the many wild edibles that are available in my area. I think with gardening and hunting for wild edibles, we will get back to the way things were in the days of my grandparents.