For the past 4 days I have been unable to do much of anything.  The day before Christmas Eve I was up until the wee hours of the morning painting our new bookshelves in our office.  I did not do this with the best form and my back was severely sore the next day.  I had family coming for dinner that night, so I did not allow myself to rest.  Then each day brought a new reason not to rest.  Then finally, as I was unloading the dishwasher, my back could take no more.  I was unable to move any more dishes or anything else for that matter.

This has been an experience that I never want to live again.  Not being able to move is not pleasant.  On the upside, I have finally found some time to read the books I bought with my Christmas gift cards.  One of the books I finished this week is called “The Well-Placed Weed” by Ryan Gainey.

well placed weed

The first time I ever heard of Ryan Gainey was while watching “Garden Smart” on PBS.  As I listened to them describe this man’s life, I said out loud to my husband, “He’s had the life of my dreams!”  At one time he owned a plant nursery for several years.  He has traveled all over the world designing numerous gardens across the globe.  He has been featured in several garden magazines as well as many garden shows.  I even found his home featured in one of my decorating books called “Garden Style”.  I was also shocked to find him featured in my garden DVD “Gardens of the World with Audrey Hepburn”.  He has countless other achievements under his belt as well.  Not to mention there are plants out there that are named after him because he discovered them.

He resides in Decatur, Georgia on a 2 acre property that he calls “The Garden of Poetry & Prose.”  When I visited Atlanta five years ago I missed my opportunity to see his garden because at that time I didn’t know who he was!  I intend on going back to see it.

ryan's house

The more I learn about Mr. Gainey the more I identify with him.  It is clear that he is very proud of his southern roots as am I.  Several plants in his garden have been collected from different people and places making his garden a living museum.  I love the story of how he came to have a variety of Asters in his garden that were given to him as a child.  I believe they were from one of his school teachers.  There are plants that I have in my garden that were gifts or just simply remind me of someone I love.


While I was reading this next passage I am going to share with you, tears ran down my face because I could relate to each word.

For me the visit I made to Claude Monet’s garden at Giverny was the foremost catalyst.  His garden opened my eyes to color.  At first we choose our plants according to the color of flowers we like, but after that, the “painting” becomes so much more complex as one begins to embrace form, texture, shadows, stems, branches, light, wind, smell, bark.  And once we combine the artistic eye and romantic soul with skillful horticultural manipulation and good gardening, each of us can make a garden.

After I read this I knew that even though we had never met, we both share an understanding about gardening.  During my college years I was exposed to the “scientific” side of horticulture where everything was technical and practical.  I often wondered if any of my fellow students had actually felt the love for gardening that I had.  For me,  the garden is always intertwined with the heart.  For Ryan Gainey it seems to be the same.

gainey sidewalk Recently I was in the process of designing a garden and someone asked me, “Why would you put a bench there?  You can’t really see it.”  I said to them, “It’s a place for the gardener to sit and view the garden from another perspective.” I realized that I was not going to be able to explain this concept to this person.  I also realized that the gardens I design are not just merely to be seen, but to be experienced.  I feel certain that Mr. Gainey would understand.  I leave you now with one of his poems:

To the Gardener (by: Ryan Gainey)

There is a weed that grows along the garden path.

A passing thought of work well intended in that crevice the of being unintended.

And from that weed a flower is borne and all our hopes are mended.

It brings to each of us for all our plans well made that such a lovely weed would somehow miss the spade.

The pleasures sought from the garden wrought joy unending.

Cultivating this simple thought we become the weed well intended.