Diana Krall, a jazz musician I like, sings a song of this title. It opens like this:
“East of the sun and west of the moon
We’ll build a dream house of love, dear
Close to the sun in the day
Near to the moon at night
We’ll live in a lovely way, dear
Sharing our love in the pale moonlight..”
I think there is something magical about the far away, the places that are at the edge of my imaginations. Those places that the concepts of my human mind will probably never fully grasp. The never-lands of before the dawn and after the dark.
Soil is like this. I know the importance of good soil and how the quality of soil makes a huge difference to the success of plants. I dig holes wider than the roots and put my plants in up to their necks; or with bulbs and seeds I bury them entirely with the hope that they will rise up searching for the “sun in the day,” reaching their roots into their own deep nights.
But still I am mystified. I know that beyond what my eye can see, the soil itself is a living, breathing thing, and in it are billions of other tiny living things all working together like a grand orchestra working toward harmony. I can see none of this and have to accept by faith that I’ve done my part to bring it all together—part composer, part conductor, part musician: we’re in this together.
My daughter, Gabi, is taking an ecology class in college this semester. Over supper, she speaks about what she is learning and often sounds as passionate as I over the condition of our world, the species that are in decline, and the threat of chemicals on every living thing. I nod and let her have the baton on her mealtime-soapbox. I’m glad she excited about environmental things, that she cares deeply, even though she says she will never be a gardener. (I say the jury is still out on that.)
In a book I’m reading called Grounded, author Diana Butler Bass writes:
“In the last forty years alone, about one-third of the world’s formerly productive soil as become unusable, and the planet continues to lose approximately twenty- five million acres a year to erosion. This is an environmental crisis to be sure, but it is a moral and ethical one as well. Something odd is happening, however, as this disaster is unfolding. At the same time that the earth is losing its soil, more people that ever are making their way back to the ground. It is as if we are returning to the roots of the crisis, discovering the soil when it needs us the most….In the early 2000s,….rural churches [were] growing crops for local food banks for homeless shelters …urban churches…turned tiny front yard into great community gardens.”
A return to the earth is happening in other places as well. We know about the enormous popularity of farm markets. Local and organically grown food is mainstream and organic food sales in the United States has reached over 43 billion dollars. (From Organic Trade Association website.) Many people, myself included, have community garden plots to grown their own edibles for fun and for health. Many of my clients are asking for designated areas for edibles into their designs. I think it is all great.
Edible or ornamental, the health and beauty of the garden is more than mulch deep; it is in the deep, rich and living soil cared for as much as the visible aspect of the garden showing in fruits and flowers.