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Audio Gardener

Conversation with Ken Druse

August 25, 2011

Click here to listen to the interview with Ken Druse. Conversation with Ken Druse

Understanding an addiction or affliction is improbable at best, but award-winning garden author, Ken Druse, takes a gallant stab at it in his book, A Passion for Gardening, Inspiration for a Lifetime. So gardeners unite! You are not alone.

Gardening is my passion. If I could indulge myself in it for every waking hour for the rest of my life, it would not be enough time to learn all I want to know or grow all the plants I dream about. - Ken Druse

Ken Druse opens his 16th gardening book with that statement that makes the wonder of gardening – craving plants, dreaming, reading, talking, learning, planning, acquiring, playing in the dirt – settle warmly within a gardener’s psyche.

The book, The Passion for Gardening, Inspiration for a Lifetime by Ken Druse (Clarkson Potter/Publishers) is a MUST read for anyone who loves plants and gardens. (His 18th book will be published in spring 2012.)

Through the eyes of gardeners around the country with an array of styles, the book faces questions like How is it that plants can drive me crazy?, Why am I obsessed?, Am I nuts?, Am I doing things right?.

Druse is a gut honest writer, and in this book of ideas he bares his soul. Through all the profiles of gardeners and their gardens, he reveals his own passions. “I covet my neighbor’s plants,” he dares.

He contemplates why we garden: “There seems to be an underlying spirit of gardening that all of us share, regardless of the kind of garden we choose to make. The process of making a garden is often more enriching than the product. … For many of us, this synergy between garden and gardener – the attitudes and methods with which we choose to practice horticulture and nurture living things – is the goal in itself.”

He shares hope through truth: “The more we garden, the more we learn. … Everything that happens in our gardens, no matter how brutal or benign, teaches some lesson or another, and our gardens are transformed by this knowledge.”

And he declares where we stand: “Foremost is the collaboration that all gardeners have with nature. A gardener’s expression comes from laying hands on the natural world. We paint in the colors of plants, sculpt in soil, rock, water, and air. Nature is our muse and partner, but we all learn soon enough that we are the junior partners in this relationship.”

Druse talks of the passions of gardening: acquiring plants, possessing plants, what truly makes a garden – and also a gardener, and developing a good land ethic.

The gardeners in the book are real people driven to garden with honest admissions and inspiration. You will discover you are not alone.

Druse’s gardener’s heart-warming acknowledgements mirror and sometimes unearth a reader’s own emotions – like the winter he planned his Brooklyn garden: “I had all winter to plan and sketch and dream – and I dreamed big. I wanted a folly – a combination classical ruin and summer house. I needed a barbecue area, a dog run, a pond with a bridge. I wanted thousands of different plants – trees and shrubs, vines and ground covers, annuals, perennials. I wanted it all – all in a backyard measuring 21 by 50 feet.”

The Passion for Gardening is a joy to read and a must for every gardener who wants to discover her or himself.

Says Druse: “As a living work of art, a garden is never static. But I am not disappointed that my garden is, in some ways, like a sand castle on the beach. My garden is always moving and changing, in tune with the world around it, and I get to witness this endless mutability and grow along with it. This process, this evolution, not only reminds me that I am alive. It is life.”

Visit Ken Druse: Real Dirt, the garden podcast by Ken Druse

** Photos by Mary Jasch unless otherwise noted.
Top photo: Ken Druse's gravel garden, photo: Ken Druse

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