The Rewards of a Garden

I once had a sparrow alight upon my shoulder for a moment, while I was hoeing in a village garden, and I felt that I was more distinguished by that circumstance that I should have been by any epaulet I could have worn." Henry David Thoreau

When I see a new kind of bird in my garden, I feel as though it has paid me and my garden a great compliment with its presence. It chose my garden! I must have done something right in my choice of trees and shrubs, in adding bird feeders and bird baths.

When I spot a toad hiding in the damp shade beneath the hosta leaves, I feel honored that he (or she) has chosen my garden to make a home.

When I see a praying mantis, sitting on the edge of a leaf, I feel like it is nodding at me, affirming that I am doing the right thing in my garden by not spraying pesticides at the first sign of an aphid.

The bees buzz their compliments as well on my choice of flowers.

When a tomato ripens, a flower blooms, or the tree leaves change to their autumn colors, I feel as though each has given me its own reward for the time I spend laboring in my garden.

When the rabbits dart out from the strawberry bed.. well, let's not carry this rewards from nature analogy too far...

Like Henry David Thoreau, most of us truly delight in nature being in our gardens. The presence of all the creatures makes us secretly, or perhaps overtly, proud of our gardens, happy to have spent the hours working in it, often in solitude, to make it a place where all of them, birds, toads, bees, spider, insects, and yes, even rabbits, voles, snakes, and squirrels, delight in being.

If we were to wait for someone to come by and present us an award for our gardens, most of us would wait forever. Awards are few and far between, and subject to the rules and intepretations of others.

But when we plant a garden, a good garden, we've already received our award, a hundred times over, from all, both flora and fauna, who chose to dwell within it.


Many thanks to all who voted for me this fall for Blotanical awards and last spring for Mouse & Trowel awards. I am honored to receive them.

Without discrediting these awards, for they, too, have their place, I confess I am more honored by the comments and emails I receive on a daily basis in response to what I write about gardening.

Just like the birds, toads, bees, and even rabbits that become a part of my garden, your thoughts shared in the comments become a part of my blog, extend the conversations, and provide me with the true reward of blogging.

Thank you!


  1. These visitors remind me on a regular basis to keep on doing what I doing in the garden.

  2. So are you saying we're like squirrels? That you think we're nuts? ;^) Great analogy between the garden and the blog. It's obvious that you're doing an awful lot right. Keep up the good work in both spheres! Thanks for making me laugh and think.

  3. Posts like this are why we enjoy your blog so much and keep coming back. Thanks, Carol, and congrats on the blogging awards and gardening rewards!

  4. I can't wait to see your garden! And you know I love your writing. But you are absolutely correct, its our own creation and the non-human creatures that visit that merit reward and admiration.

  5. You've once again put into words something that taps into our deepest feelings, Carol. Thank you for recognizing that while our triumphs with flowers, insects and birds may seem small to non-gardeners, they are still genuine triumphs.

    It's good to know that you like comments and emails as much as you like awards.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  6. So nicely put, getting right to the heart of the matter! I'm looking forward to many more posts from May Dreams Gardens!

  7. Hi Carol,

    I've been to your blog before and I find it very enjoyable.

    I hope you don't mind me asking...
    I know you created "Bloom Day" and it's the 15th of each month.
    Is that for "current" blooms ?
    Still new and trying to understand.


  8. So beautifully said, Carol. Congratulations on the Blotanical and Mouse and Trowel awards!

  9. I agree that one of the things distinguishes blogs from other types of garden writing is the extended conversation between writer and reader--a conversation that blurs the distinction between them.

    I have been amazed, too, how these online visits have led to actual physical visits; how these online conversations have led to real friendships.

    As you've pointed out in other posts, these conversations continue on in my head, when I'm alone in my garden. As I work, everything in the garden reverberates with the memory of something someone has blogged about--a plant, a hoe, a method of gardening, or maybe just struggles with the weather.

    BTW. My name means "honeybee"--and I'm always happy to buzz by your garden. There are such riches there.

  10. Congratulations on your Blotanical award Carol, and thank you for all you do for the garden blogging community!

  11. Your eloquent segue reminds me why you won the Blotanical award for Best Blog Writing. Beautifully expressed, Carol. And I agree that, nice as an award is, the regular comments and emails that establish relationships and eventually friendships are even better.

  12. Beautiful post, Carol, which once again reminds us of why you've received the many deserved awards for your blog.

  13. You are right. The award, or should I say, reward, is in the gardening itself.

  14. The little visitors to my garden are truly my reward. It delights me beyond measure to create a habitat for them. I am very glad however that the snakes have not found their way here.

    Congratulations on your Blotanical awards.

  15. The garden gives us many gifts. :)

  16. The interplay of Nature with our gardens is one of the most rewarding things about gardening. You've stated it most succinctly and eloquently in this post.

  17. Congratulations on your awards, they are well deserved. And thank you for your wonderful writing and photographs. I read your blog everyday on my lunch hour, and I always gain some insight or "oh yeah" moment!

  18. So I'm reading along, and I'm thinking, "such eloquence, such insight, such a paean to Nature and gardening...." and I get to the part about the rabbits and the strawberries and BURST out laughing! Carol, you are a joy! Thank you for your blog and for Garden Blogger's Bloom Day--I've missed a couple due to illness but I'll be back this month (I hope!)

    Congrats on your awards, and thank you for the wonderful Thoreau quote!


  19. Carol, Let me add my belated congratulations on your Blotanical awards...they are well deserved. You are a fantastic writer and I can't think of a post I haven't enjoyed.

  20. Those are lovely sentiments. I am just reading a book by Henry Thoreau and I realize how wonderful it must have been for him to be outside, so engulfed in his experiences. I don't usually have the luxury.

    Thanks for the lovely post.

  21. Dear Carol, You do have a marvelous way with words. I am sure the creatures of the garden are your treasures. I always feel good being a minor part of your blog by being able to comment. You stir up thoughts about issues of the garden that I might never think so seriously about or even so silly. All is most appreciated.
    I am so glad you won the awards and that the frogs, rabbits, bees and birds all agree.

  22. Carol,

    You are so worthy of recognition for sharing yourself, your knowledge, and your passion for gardening. You also possess a nice human quality that makes us want to return. And, Carol, you are VERY funny.

    Like you, I will never receive an award for efforts in my little wildlife habitat. That's OK. Every day, I see small rewards like a Zebra Swallowtail enjoying the butterfly bush, an American Goldfinch pinching the seeds on my Coneflowers, or a bullfrog peeking at me from beneath a pond rock. That's the most pleasure of all.

    Could do without the bunnies, though :o)


  23. Very well expressed! The comments are the candy aren't they? Great job and congratulations.

  24. Yes, and you do it with a lot of grace and knowledge. Congrats on your award. You might be one of the wittiest people I know.

  25. Re the awards: very well put, my sentiments exactly! And as I've been so busy lately I had missed your lovely post about the true reward of blogging. Thanks for putting a link to it today. And what can I say but: we're on the same page there too.

  26. Your opening Thoreau quote reminded me of a robin that lived at the nursery where I work. About 10 years ago she figured that whenever we moved plants around, there were usually earth worms under the pots that she could gobble up. So she would perch nearby to reap the bounty. She grew so comfortable around us that she started to sit on my shoulder to get a better view and quicker access to her food. This only lasted one summer, but her offspring and offspring's offspring now wait for us to move pots, but no shoulder sitters yet.

  27. Great post, Carol! You've expressed so well the relationship between the gardener and the creatures of nature. I find myself enjoying the insect life and birds almost as much--notice I say almost--as the flowers these days.

  28. Carol, I think I forgot to congratulate you on your Blotanical award and all your nominations. Sorry; I meant are well deserving of all the accolades!


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