Yard work. Those are words that conjure unpleasant images: a chore, a slog. Anyone who has a yard can do yard work. Fire up the mower, hack the top off that tree so the missus can see out the window, then it’s off to watch the game. But ‘gardening,’ that is something different entirely. Gardening is a pastime that brings to mind the scent of flowers, a floppy hat, an air of gentility. To be a gardener is to create, to cultivate, and to care for; and to be a gardener is an identity. I tend my garden. I am a gardener.
For a decade and a half, my mother gardened the same African violet and jade plant in her apartment. You can garden on a deck or patio, or with a staff of assistants on a pastoral estate. I used to garden in an urban backyard. Now I am going to garden an acre of Pacific Northwest woodland.