We start every issue of our email newsletter with a GARDEN QUOTATION. They’re all archived here, starting with the most recently published. Enjoy!

For other topics, please see our main Newsletter Archives page. To subscribe, click here.


“We must cultivate our garden.”

– Voltaire, 1694-1778, in Candide (These words of wisdom are spoken by the once-innocent Candide at the very end of the book, after his long journey through a world of terrible suffering.)

“Nature’s first green is gold, / Her hardest hue to hold. / Her early leaf’s a flower; / But only so an hour....”

– Robert Frost, American poet, 1874-1963, in “Nothing Gold Can Stay,” 1923

“Perfumes are the feelings of flowers.”

– Heinrich Heine, 1797-1856, German poet

“All my hurts my garden spade can heal.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson, American philosopher, essayist, and poet, 1803-1882


A garden “makes all our senses swim in pleasure, and that with infinite variety.”

– William Lawson, British vicar and author, 1554-1635, in A New Orchard and Garden, 1618

“A garden is like the self. It has so many layers and winding paths, real or imagined, that it can never be known, completely, even by the most intimate of friends.”

– Anne Raver, contemporary American garden writer (Deep in the Green, etc.)

“Now that so much of the world’s native flora has been discovered, the past is the new frontier.”

– David Stuart, Gardening with Heirloom Plants, 1997

“All art is but imitation of nature.”

– Seneca the Younger, 4 BC-65 AD, Roman Stoic philosopher, statesman, and dramatist

“I used to visit and revisit it a dozen times a day, and stand in deep contemplation over my vegetable progeny with a love that nobody could share or conceive of who had never taken part in the process of creation. It was one of the most bewitching sights in the world to observe a hill of beans thrusting aside the soil, or a row of early peas just peeping forth sufficiently to trace a line of delicate green.”

– Nathaniel Hawthorne, American author (The Scarlet Letter, etc.), 1804-1864

“All things seem possible in May.”

– Edwin Way Teale, 1899-1980, American naturalist and writer

“It’s spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you’ve got it, you want – oh, you don’t quite know what it is you DO want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!”

– Huck Finn in Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer, Detective, 1896

“It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold; when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.”

– Charles Dickens, Great Expectations, 1861

“The lesson I have thoroughly learnt, and wish to pass on to others, is to know the enduring happiness that the love of a garden gives.”

– Gertrude Jekyll, 1843-1932, arguably the 20th century’s most influential garden designer and author

“A garden is a love song, a duet between a human being and Mother Nature.”

– Jeff Cox, American garden writer, 1940-

“I thank you for the seeds. Too old to plant trees for my own gratification, I shall do it for my posterity.”

– Thomas Jefferson, 1743-1826, revolutionary, president, gardener


“Yes, I’d love to have a garden of my own – spacious and full of everything that is fragrant and flowering. But if I don’t succeed, never mind – I’ve still got the dream.”

– Ruskin Bond, 1934- , Indian author and poet, in Rain in the Mountains: Notes from the Himalayas

“A garden that one makes oneself becomes associated with one’s personal history and that of one’s friends, interwoven with one’s tastes, preferences and character, and constitutes a sort of unwritten, but withal manifest, autobiography. Show me your garden, provided it be your own, and I will tell you what you are like.”

– Alfred Austin (1835-1913), British poet laureate, from The Garden That I Love, 1894

“A house though otherwise beautiful, yet if it hath no garden belonging to it, is more like a prison than a house.”

– William Coles, 1626-1662, British botanist, in The Art of Simpling, 1656

“There is no gardening without humility, an assiduous willingness to learn and a cheerful readiness to confess you were mistaken. Nature is constantly sending even its oldest scholars to the bottom of the class for some egregious blunder.” [So just keep studying and enjoy it!]

– Alfred Austin, English poet laureate, in The Garden That I Love, 1894

“One of the things I really like about gardening is that it doesn’t take a lot of concentration and leaves a lot of space for speculation.”

– Michael Pollan, American author of Second Nature, The Botany of Desire, In Defense of Food, etc.

“My hoe as it bites the ground revenges my wrongs, and I have less lust to bite my enemies. In smoothing the rough hillocks, I smooth my temper.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1803-1882, American philosopher, essayist, lecturer, and poet

“Weather means more when you have a garden. There’s nothing like listening to a shower and thinking how it is soaking in around your green beans.” [Or dahlias!]

– Marcelene Cox, American humorist, author of “Ask Any Woman,” a column in the Ladies’ Home Journal from 1942-1959

“Many things grow in the garden that were never sown there.”

– Thomas Fuller, 1608-1661, English preacher, historian, and author

“Only fools view their gardens in monetary terms…. The real point of a garden is to increase the value of our lives.”

– Anna Pavord, British garden writer (and bulb enthusiast), in The Curious Gardener, 2010

flower arrangement: / just two yellow daffodils, / the first to bloom

– L. A. Davidson, American haiku poet, 1917-2007, in The Shape of the Tree

“But each spring . . . a gardening instinct, sore as the sap rising in the trees, stirs within us. We look about and decide to tame another little bit of ground.”

– Lewis Gannitt, 1891-1966, American journalist and author

“Compared to gardeners, I think it is generally agreed that others understand very little about anything of consequence.”

– Henry Mitchell, 1923-1993, one of America’s best (and funniest) garden writers

“A flowerless room is a soulless room, to my way of thinking; but even one solitary little vase of a living flower may redeem it.”

– Vita Sackville-West, English novelist, poet, garden writer, and creator of Sissinghurst Castle Garden


“An idealist is one who, on noticing that a rose smells better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup.”

– H.L. Mencken, 1880-1956, American journalist and cultural critic

“Earth knows no desolation. She smells regeneration in the moist breath of decay.”

– George Meredith, 1828-1909, English novelist and poet

“Each moment of the year has its own beauty, a picture which was never seen before, and which shall never be seen again.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson, American philosopher, essayist, lecturer, and poet, 1803-1882

“Gardening takes a plot of land, a hoe, and willing muscles. Scratching the soil, harvesting garden fruits, are peaceful results. With a garden, there is hope.”

– Grace Firth, 1923-2004, American wild foods and home-brew pioneer, in A Natural Year, 1971

“My green thumb came only as a result of the mistakes I made while learning to see things from the plants’ point of view.”

– H. Fred Dale, Toronto Star garden writer and author of Fred Dale’s Garden Book, 1972

“I never had any other desire so strong, and so like to covetousness, as that one which I have had always, that I might be master at last of a small house and a large garden.”

– Abraham Cowley, 1618-1667, English poet

“She turned to the sunlight / And shook her yellow head / And whispered to her neighbor: / ‘Winter is dead.’”

– from “Daffodowndilly” by A.A. Milne, 1882-1956, English author of Winnie the Pooh books

“The evening was hot; it was the fragrance of the lemon lilies that was cool, like the breath from a mountain well.”

– Eudora Welty, 1909-2001, American author, in Delta Wedding, 1946

“The love of gardening is a seed that once sown never dies.”

– Gertrude Jekyll, 1843-1932, arguably the 20th century’s most influential garden designer and writer

“If seeds in the black earth can turn into such beautiful roses, what might not the heart of man become in its long journey toward the stars?”

– G.K. Chesterton, 1874-1936, British writer, poet, and philosopher

“Half the interest of a garden is the constant exercise of the imagination. You are always living three, or indeed six, months hence. . . . To be content with the present, and not striving about the future, is fatal.”

– Alice Morse Earle, 1851-1911, American historian and author of Old Time Gardens, Newly Set Forth


“The man [or woman!] who has planted a garden feels he has done something for the good of the whole world.”

– Charles Dudley Warner, 1829-1900, American writer and editor, from My Summer in a Garden

“Gardens will be the peaceful haven we all need.”

– Paul Tukey, American environmentalist

“I found myself aching to order up sacks of bulbs, to lift my trowel, to slice into the earth, and tuck away what amounts to hope, faith and promise.”

– Barbara Mahany, American journalist and blogger, at

“Bulbs need so little and give back so much. They start off homely, even ugly, and return transformed.”

– Lauren Springer Ogden, American garden writer and designer

“Bulbs need so little and give back so much. They start off homely, even ugly, and return transformed.”

– Lauren Springer Ogden, American garden writer and designer

“A piece of sky and a chunk of earth lie lodged in the heart of every human being.”

– Thomas Moore, Irish poet, songwriter, and singer, 1779-1852

“The most important thing I’ve learned over the years is that gardening is about the doing: the digging and weeding and watering. I may plan and plot and dream but when it comes right down to it, I garden to garden.”

– Linda Brazil, blogger (and OHG customer),

“A garden is the best alternative therapy.”

– Germaine Greer, Australian-born author, scholar, and feminist

“The fattest and most scrumptious of all flowers, a rare fusion of fluff and majesty, the peony is now coming into bloom to mark the highest of high spring.”

– Henry Mitchell, American garden writer extraordinaire, 1924-1993

“I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey-work of the stars . . .
And the running blackberry would adorn the parlors of heaven.”

– Walt Whitman, American poet, 1819-1892

“Gardeners are inquisitive by nature; we are explorers.”

– Amy Stewart, The Earth Moved: On the Remarkable Achievements of Earthworms, 2004

“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished”

– Lao Tzu, 6th century BC, Chinese philosopher and poet, founder of Taoism

“I read [garden catalogs] for news, for driblets of knowledge, for aesthetic pleasure, and at the same time I am planning the future, so I read in dream.”

– Katharine White, in The New Yorker, March 1, 1959, collected in Onward and Upward in the Garden


“In seed-time learn, in harvest teach, in winter enjoy.”

– William Blake, 1757-1827, English poet and artist

“It is a greater act of faith to plant a bulb than to plant a tree.”

– Clare Leighton, English/American artist and author, 1898-1989

“If of thy mortal goods thou art bereft, / And of thy meager store two loaves alone to thee are left, / Sell one, and with the dole / Buy hyacinths to feed thy soul.”

– Saadi, Persian Sufi poet, in Gulistan (The Rose Garden), 1258

“The sun, with all those planets revolving around it and dependent on it, can still ripen a bunch of grapes as if it had nothing else in the universe to do.”

– Galileo, 1564-1642, Italian astronomer, physicist, engineer, mathematician, and philosopher

“Life is itself a school, and Nature always a fresh study.”

– Hugh Miller, 1802-1856, Scottish geologist, paleontologist, and folklorist

“Gardening requires lots of water – most of it in the form of perspiration.”

– Lou Erickson, 1913-1990, American editorial cartoonist

“Nothing is more pleasant to the eye than green grass kept finely shorn.”

– Sir Francis Bacon, 1561-1626, English philosopher, statesman, and scientist

“When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.”

– John Muir, 1838-1914, naturalist and wilderness advocate

“Queer things happen in the garden in May. Little faces forgotten appear, and plants thought to be dead suddenly wave a little green hand to confound you.”

– W. E. Johns, 1893-1968, British author of adventure stories

“Hoe while it is spring, and enjoy the best anticipations. It is not much matter if things do not turn out well.”

– Charles Dudley Warner, 1829-1900, American writer and editor, from My Summer in a Garden, 1870

“Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.”

– Jesus of Nazareth, Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 6:28

“Picasso said that no one has to explain a daffodil. Good design is understandable to virtually everybody. You never have to ask why.”

– Hugh Newell Jacobsen, architect, in Architectural Digest, May 2008

“Good timber does not grow with ease; the stronger the wind, the stronger the trees.”

– J. Willard Marriott, 1900-1985, American entrepreneur, founder of Marriott Corp.

“Aside from the garden of Eden, man’s great temptation took place when he first received his seed catalog.”

– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 1807-1882, American poet


“In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous.”

– Aristotle, 384-322 BC, Greek philosopher and scientist

“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.”

– Albert Camus, 1913-1960, French-Algerian author and existentialist

“There are no gardening mistakes, only experiments.”

– Janet Kilburn Phillips, author of English Cottage Gardening American Style

“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike.”

– John Muir, 1838-1914, American naturalist, author, and wilderness advocate

“Hope is one of the essential tools of a farmer or gardener.”

– Amy Stewart, The Earth Moved: On the Remarkable Achievements of Earthworms, 2004

“Spring drew on . . . and a greenness grew over those brown beds which, freshening daily, suggested the thought that Hope traversed them at night, and left each morning brighter traces of her steps.”

– Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre, 1847

“Spring is nature’s way of saying, let’s party!”

– Robin Williams, American comedian and actor

“All through the long winter I dream of my garden. On the first warm day of spring I dig my fingers deep into the soft earth. I can feel its energy, and my spirits soar.”

– Helen Hayes, American actress, 1900-1993

“Adopt the pace of Nature: her secret is patience.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1803-1882, American philosopher, essayist, and poet

“In the depths of winter I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.”

– Albert Camus, 1913-1960, French-Algerian author and existentialist

“He who cultivates a garden and brings to perfection flowers and fruits, cultivates and advances at the same time his own nature.”

– Ezra Weston II, shipbuilder, speaking to the Massachusetts Horticultural Society, 1836


“Every gardener knows under the cloak of winter lies a miracle – a seed waiting to sprout, a bulb opening to light, a bud straining to unfurl. And the anticipation nurtures our dream.”

– Barbara Winkler, American author and editor

“Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature is a help. Gardening is an instrument of grace.”

– May Sarton, 1912-1995, American poet, novelist, and memoirist

“Find out what you can grow well, and grow lots of it.”

– Lord Abercrombie, quoted by Thalassa Cruso in Making Things Grow, 1969

“Good gardeners are always young in spirit, for their minds are fixed on spring when others feel only the bitter sting of winter.”

– Mary Fanton-Roberts, 1864-1956, American author, in The Touchstone, Oct. 1917

“For man, autumn is a time of harvest, of gathering together. For nature, it is a time of sowing, of scattering abroad.”

– Edwin Way Teale, 1899-1980, American naturalist, photographer, and author

“Half the interest of a garden is the constant exercise of the imagination.”

– Mrs. C. W. Earle, 1836-1925, in her classic Pot-Pourri from a Surrey Garden, 1897

“A gardener learns more in the mistakes than in the successes.”

– Barbara Dodge Borland, 1904-1991, American author

“Gardening is a kind of disease. . . . When you go visiting, your eyes rove about the garden; you interrupt the serious cocktail drinking because of an irresistible impulse to get up and pull a weed.”

– Lewis Gannitt, 1891-1966, American journalist and author

“The day is coming when a single carrot, freshly observed, will set off a revolution.”

– Paul Cezanne, 1839-1906, French artist

“Gardeners, I think, dream bigger than emperors.”

– Mary Cantwell, 1930-2000, New York Times journalist and novelist

“Flowers are words which even a baby can understand.”

– A. Cleveland Coxe, 1818-1896, American theologian and composer

“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.”

– Margaret Atwood, Canadian novelist, poet, and environmentalist

“Like a chain letter, I will take a plant from this garden to the next and from the next garden to the one after that, and so on, until someday I am an old woman nurturing along a patchwork quilt of a garden, with cuttings and scraps from every garden I tended before.”

– Amy Stewart, From the Ground Up, 2001

“For gardeners, this is the season of lists and callow hopefulness; hundreds of thousands of bewitched readers are poring over their catalogs, making lists . . . , and dreaming their dreams.”

– Katharine White, “A Romp in the Catalogues,” The New Yorker, 1958, collected in Onward and Upward in the Garden, 1979


“Flowers and fruit are only the beginning. In the seed lies the life and the future.”

– Marion Zimmer Bradley, 1930-1999, American fantasy and science fiction author

“Flowers are beautiful hieroglyphics of Nature, with which she indicates how much she loves us.”

– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, 1749-1832, German playwright, poet, and author of Metamorphosis of Plants

“An addiction to gardening is not all bad when you consider all the other choices in life.”

– Cora Lea Bell

“All bulbous plants are tenacious of life.”

– Theophrastus, 371-287 BC, Greek “father of botany”

“Every generation thinks it has the answers, and every generation is humbled by nature.”

– Phillip Lubin

“Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil and you’re a thousand miles from the corn field.”

– Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1890-1969, 34th US President

“A garden is evidence of faith. It links us with all the misty figures of the past who also planted and were nourished by the fruits of their planting.”

– Gladys Taber, 1899-1980, American author of the Stillmeadow books

“God almighty first planted a garden. And indeed, it is the purest of human pleasures.”

– Sir Francis Bacon, 1561-1626, English philosopher, statesman, and scientist

“Sweet April showers / Do spring May flowers.”

– Thomas Tusser, A Hundred Good Points of Husbandry, 1557

“Where flowers bloom, so does hope.”

– Lady Bird Johnson, 1912-2007, First Lady and wildflower advocate

“We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.”

– Abraham Lincoln

“Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.”

– Martin Luther, 1483-1546, theologian and Reformation leader


“From December to March, there are for many of us three gardens – the garden outdoors, the garden of pots and bowls in the house, and the garden of the mind’s eye.”

– Katharine S. White, 1892-1977, from Onward and Upward in the Garden

“‘Green fingers’ are the extensions of a verdant heart. A good garden cannot be made by somebody who has not developed the capacity to know and love growing things.”

– Russell Page, 1906-1985, British garden designer, from The Education of a Gardener, 1962

“A seed hidden in the heart of an apple is an orchard invisible.”

– Welsh proverb

“To dig in one’s own earth, with one’s own spade, does life hold anything better?”

– Beverly Nichols, 1898-1982, British author of Down the Garden Path, etc.

“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds [and bulbs!] you plant.”

– Robert Louis Stevenson, 1850-1894, Scottish novelist and poet

“One of the few infallible rules of gardening is that no garden can have too many bulbs. Splurge. It is the only way.”

– Anna Pavord, Bulb, 2009

“The man who worries morning and night about the dandelions in the lawn will find great relief in loving the dandelions.”

– Liberty Hyde Bailey, American horticulturist, Manual of Gardening, 1910

“Proud-pied April, dressed in all his trim / Hath put a spirit of youth in everything.”

– William Shakespeare, 1564-1616

“April / Comes like an idiot, babbling, and strewing flowers.”

– Edna St. Vincent Millay, 1892-1950, American poet

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

– Anais Nin, 1903-1977, French-born American author

“Every spring, like it or not, we are all beginners, all over again.”

– Dominique Browning, American writer and editor, NY Times Book Review, Dec. 3, 2009

“I have seen women looking at jewelry ads with a misty eye and one hand resting on the heart, and I only know what they’re feeling because that’s how I read the seed catalogs in January.”

– Barbara Kingsolver, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, 2007


“A garden is never so good as it will be next year.”

– Thomas Cooper, garden editor and author

“Autumn is a season followed immediately by looking forward to spring.”

– Doug Larson, Wisconsin newspaper columnist

“At the heart of gardening there is a belief in the miraculous.”

– Mirabel Osler, British author of A Gentle Plea for Chaos, etc.

“When you plant daffodils you are planting for your children, and for their grandchildren. Because daffodils, like diamonds, are forever.”

– Gloria Cole at

“I know a lady, a member of the church, and a very good sort of woman, who says that the weeds work on her to that extent that, in going through her garden, she has the greatest difficulty in keeping the Ten Commandments in anything like an unfractured condition. I asked her which one, but she said, all of them: one felt like breaking the whole lot.”

– Charles Dudley Warner, 1829-1900, from My Summer in a Garden (1870)

“Art is the unceasing effort to compete with the beauty of flowers – and never succeeding.”

– Marc Chagall, 1887-1985, painter

“Almost any garden, if you see it at just the right moment, can be confused with paradise.”

– Henry Mitchell, 1924-1993, American garden writer and humanist

“All gardeners live in beautiful places because they make them so.”

– Joseph Joubert, 1754-1824, French essayist

“Every year, back comes spring, with nasty little birds yapping their fool heads off and the ground all mucked up with plants.”

– Dorothy Parker, 1893-1967, American author, poet, journalist, humorist

“First a howling blizzard woke us,
Then the rain came down to soak us,
And now before the eye can focus –

– Lilja Rogers, 1901-1998, New Hampshire poet

“Flowers always make people better, happier, and more helpful; they are sunshine, food, and medicine to the soul.”

– Luther Burbank, 1849-1926, American plant breeder

“The most noteworthy thing about gardeners is that they are always optimistic, always enterprising, and never satisfied. They always look forward to doing better than they have ever done before.”

– Vita Sackville-West, 1892-1962, English author, creator of Sissinghurst Gardens


“For in the true nature of things, if we rightly consider, every green tree is far more glorious than if it were made of gold and silver.”

– Martin Luther, 1483-1546, theologian and Reformation leader

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

– Cicero, 106-43 BCE, Roman statesman, philosopher, and orator

“I do not understand how anyone can live without one small place of enchantment to turn to.”

– Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, 1896-1953, author of The Yearling

“There is more pleasure in making a garden than in contemplating a paradise.”

– Anne Scott-James, Down to Earth, 1971

“If of thy mortal goods thou art bereft,
And of thy meager store
Two loaves alone to thee are left,
Sell one, and with the dole
Buy hyacinths to feed thy soul.”

– Saadi, Persian Sufi poet, in Gulistan (The Rose Garden), 1258

“Acts of creation are ordinarily reserved for gods and poets, but humbler folk may circumvent this restriction. . . . To plant a pine, for example, . . . one need only own a good shovel.”

– Aldo Leopold, American environmentalist, A Sand County Almanac, 1948

“Gentlewomen, if the ground be not too wet, may do themselves much good by kneeling upon a cushion and weeding. And thus both sexes might divert themselves from idleness and evil company.”

– William Coles, The Art of Simpling, 1656

“There are no green thumbs or black thumbs. There are only gardeners and non-gardeners. Gardeners are the ones who ruin after ruin get on with the high defiance of nature herself, creating, in the very face of her chaos and tornado, the bower of roses and the pride of irises. It sounds very well to garden in a ‘natural way.’ You may see the natural way in any desert, any swamp, any leech-filled laurel hell. Defiance, on the other hand, is what makes gardeners.”

– Henry Mitchell, 1923-1993, one of America’s best, and funniest, garden writers

“Without flowers, the reptiles, which had prospered in a leafy, fruitless world, would probably still rule. Without flowers, we would not be.”

– Michael Pollan, The Botany of Desire, 2001

“It will never rain roses. When we want to have more roses, we must plant more.”

– George Eliot (Mary Anne Evans), 1819-1880, British author of Middlemarch, etc.

“I think this is what hooks one to gardening: it is the closest one can come to being present at creation.”

– Phyllis Theroux, contemporary American author of Giovanni’s Light, etc.

“I’d rather have roses on my table than diamonds on my neck.”

– Emma Goldman, 1869-1940, American feminist and anarchist

“What I need most of all are flowers, always, always.”

– Claude Monet, 1840-1926, Impressionist painter and life-long gardener


“I am trying to make a grey, green, and white garden. This is an experiment which I ardently hope may be successful, though I doubt it. . . . All the same, I cannot help hoping that the great ghostly barn owl will sweep silently across a pale garden, next summer, in the twilight – the pale garden that I am now planting, under the first flakes of snow.”

– Vita Sackville-West, 1892-1962, English author and creator of Sissinghurst Castle Garden and its most celebrated feature, the White Garden

“And there came a smell off the shore like the smell of a garden.”

– John Winthrop, 1588-1649, Puritan leader and first governor of Massachusetts

“I like the smell of a dunged field, and the tumult of a popular election.”

– Augustus and Julius Hare, Guesses at Truth, by Two Brothers, 1827

“In all the recipes for happiness I have ever seen, ‘something to look forward to’ has been given as an important ingredient. Something to look forward to! How rich the gardener, any gardener, is in this particular integrant! For always he [or she] looks forward to something, if it is only the appearance of the red noses of the peonies in the spring or the sharp aromas that fill the air in autumn after the frost has touched the herbage.”

– Louise Beebe Wilder, 1887-1938, America’s Gertrude Jekyll

“In these golden October days no work is more fascinating than this getting ready for spring. The sun is no longer a burning enemy, but a friend, illuminating all the open space, and warming the mellow soil.”

– Charles Dudley Warner, 1829-1900, My Summer in a Garden

“When in these fresh mornings I go into my garden before anyone is awake, I go for the time being into perfect happiness. In this hour divinely fresh and still, the fair face of every flower salutes me with a silent joy. . . . All the cares, perplexities, and griefs of existence, all the burdens of life slip from my shoulders and leave me with the heart of a little child that asks nothing beyond the present moment of innocent bliss.”

– Celia Thaxter, 1835-1894, New England poet and author of An Island Garden

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.”

– Marcel Proust, 1871-1922, French novelist, critic, and essayist

“Gardens are not made / By singing ‘Oh, how beautiful!’ / And sitting in the shade.”

– Rudyard Kipling, 1865-1936, English author

“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

“When a young man presents a tulip to his mistress he gives her to understand, by the general color of the flower that he is on fire with her beauty, and by the black base of it that his heart is burnt to a coal.”

– Sir John Chardin, Travels of Sir John Chardin into Persia and the East Indies, 1711

“To own a bit of ground, to scratch it with a hoe, to plant seeds, and watch the renewal of life – this is the commonest delight of the race, the most satisfactory thing a [person] can do.”

– Charles Dudley Warner, 1829-1900, from My Summer in the Garden

“The best [garden rollers] are made of the hardest marble . . . procured from the ruins of many places in Smyrna when old columns of demolished antiquities are being sawed off. . . . [They] may be procured by the friendship of some merchant trading into the Levant.”

– John Evelyn, 1620-1706, English writer, diarist, and gardener, in Elysium Britannicum, 1659

“He who would perfect his work must first sharpen his tools.”

– Confucius, 551-479 BCE


“Most people in November take last looks at their gardens and are then prepared to ignore them until the spring. I am quite sure that a garden doesn’t like to be ignored like this. . . , especially since a garden knows how gay and delightful it can be, even in the very frozen heart of winter, if you only give it a chance.”

– Beverley Nichols, 1898-1983, English playwright, novelist, and garden writer

“A killing frost devastates the heart as well as the garden.”

– Eleanor Perenyi, American garden writer, author of the classic Green Thoughts, 1981

“Then I went out for two hours late in the afternoon and put in a hundred tulips. In itself that would not be a big job, but everywhere I have to clear space for them. . . . I really get to weeding only in the spring and autumn, so I am working through a jungle now. Doing it I feel strenuously happy and at peace. At the end of the afternoon on a gray day, the light is sad and one feels the chill, but the bitter smell of earth is a tonic.”

– May Sarton, 1912-1995, New England poet, author, and feminist

“The love of dirt is among the earliest of passions, as it is the latest. Mud-pies gratify one of our first and best instincts.”

– Charles Dudley Warner, 1829-1900, from My Summer in the Garden

“Garden as though you will live forever.”

– William Kent, 1685-1748, progenitor of the naturalistic “English landscape”

“Sweet flowers are slow / and weeds make haste.”

– William Shakespeare, 1564-1616

“I like generosity wherever I find it, whether in gardens or elsewhere. I hate to see things scrimp and scrubby. Even the smallest garden can be prodigal within its limitations.”

– Vita Sackville-West, 1892-1962, English author, creator of Sissinghurst Gardens

“There is nothing like the first hot day of spring when the gardener stops wondering if it’s too soon to plant the dahlias and starts wondering if it’s too late. Even the most beautiful weather will not allay the gardener’s notion (well-founded, actually) that he is somehow too late, too soon, or that he has too much stuff going on or not enough.”

– Henry Mitchell, 1923-1993, one of America’s best, and funniest, garden writers

“There is not a sprig of grass that shoots uninteresting to me.”

– Thomas Jefferson

“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant.”

– Anne Bradstreet, 1612-1672, colonial American poet

“March comes in with an adder’s head and goes out with a peacock’s tail.”

– Old English saying (Feel free to translate this to January, February, or April, depending on your climate!)


“To create a garden is to search for a better world. . . . Whether the result is a horticultural masterpiece or only a modest vegetable patch, it is based on the expectation of a glorious future. This hope for the future is at the heart of all gardening.”

– Marina Schinz, Swiss garden writer and photographer

“Last night, there came a frost, which has done great damage to my garden. . . . It is sad that Nature will play such tricks with us poor mortals, inviting us with sunny smiles to confide in her, and then, when we are entirely within her power, striking us to the heart.”

– Nathaniel Hawthorne, 1804-1864, American author

“You’re supposed to get tired planting bulbs. But it’s an agreeable tiredness.”

– Gail Godwin, born 1937, American novelist

“I long for the bulbs to arrive, for the early autumn chores are melancholy, but the planting of bulbs is the work of hope and always thrilling.”

– May Sarton, 1912-1995, New England poet, author, feminist

“We have descended into the garden and caught three hundred slugs. How I love the mixture of the beautiful and the squalid in gardening. It makes it so lifelike.”

– Evelyn Underhill, 1875-1941, English theologian and author

“What pleasure is there greater than to go round one’s garden on a sunny day with a fellow-enthusiast, and to sing that cheering litany which runs, in strophe and antistrophe, ‘Oh, wouldn’t you like a bit of this?’ ‘And I could send you a bulb of that.’ Down delves the glad trowel into a clump, and it is halved, like mercy blessing him that gives and him that takes.”

– Reginald Farrer, 1880-1920, British plant explorer, rock gardener, and author

“I’m tired of hearing so much about maintenance-free gardens. If you aren’t going to get out there and live with it, including take care of it, then what’s the point of gardening anyway?”

– Pamela Lord, American garden writer, founder of the Garden Book Club

“Who loves a garden still his Eden keeps, Perennial pleasures plants, and wholesome harvest reaps.”

– Amos Bronson Alcott, 1799-1888, American Transcendentalist and educator

“There is no time like the old time, when you and I were young,
When the buds of April blossomed, and the birds of spring-time sung!
The garden’s brightest glories by summer suns are nursed,
But oh, the sweet, sweet violets, the flowers that opened first!”

– Oliver Wendell Holmes, 1809-1894, American poet and author

“A garden is a grand teacher. It teaches patience and careful watchfulness; it teaches industry and thrift; above all, it teaches entire trust.”

– Gertrude Jekyll, 1843-1932, cottage-garden artist, plantswoman, author

“All Nature seems at work. Slugs leave their lair,
The bees are stirring, birds are on the wing,
And Winter slumbering in the open air,
Wears on his smiling face a dream of spring!”

– Samuel Taylor Coleridge, 1772-1834, English poet

“Gardening, like living, should be fun.”

– Christopher Lloyd, 1921-2006, English gardener and garden writer

“Let us love winter, for it is the spring of genius.”

– Pietro Aretino, 1492-1556, Italian author and friend of Titian


“The crisp October air, the handling of the lovely burnished balls of bulbs, the smell of earth as one digs and sets, the feeling during the winter, no matter what befalls in the way of weather, that beyond one’s window lie things that will surely rise and glow in the spring sun so surely as that sun itself shall move southward in the sky, it is all one of the greatest sources of happiness known to mankind.”

– Louisa Yeoman King, 1863-1948, American garden writer, From a New Garden, 1928

For articles on other topics, see our main Newsletter Archives page.