"Abandon the urge to simplify
everything, to look for formulas and easy answers, and to begin to think multidimensionally, to glory in the mystery and paradoxes of life, not to be dismayed by the multitude of causes and consequences that are inherent in each experience -- to appreciate the fact that life is complex."
- M. Scott Peck
"The little things? The
little moments? They aren't little."
- John Zabat-Zinn
"We learn from our gardens to deal
with the most urgent question of the time: How much is enough?"
- Wendell Berry
"A diverse ecosystem will
also be resilient, because it contains many species with overlapping ecological
functions that can partially replace one another. When a particular species is
destroyed by a severe disturbance so that a link in the network is broken, a
diverse community will be able to survive and reorganize itself... In other
words, the more complex the network is, the more complex its pattern of
interconnections, the more resilient it will be."
- Fritjof Capra
"A graphic representation of data abstracted from
the banks of every computer in the human system. Unthinkable complexity. Lines
of light ranged in the nonspace of the mind, clusters and constellations of
data. Like city lights, receding."
- William Gibson
"A garden is like the self. It
has so many layers and winding paths, real or imagined, that it can never be known, completely, every by the most intimate of friends."
- Anne Raver, Deep in the Green
"Show me a person without prejudice of
any kind on any subject and
I'll show you someone who may be admirably virtuous but is surely
no gardener. Prejudice against people is reprehensible, but a healthy
set of prejudices is a gardener's best friend. Gardening is complicated,
and prejudice simplifies it enormously."
- Allen Lacy, Home Ground, 1984
"I see the world in very fluid,
interconnected terms, and with that kind of circuitry I just
don't feel the need to say what is going to happen or will not happen."
- Jerry Brown
"It isn't that I don't like sweet
but it has to be judiciously arranged."
- Vita Sackville West
"Biological diversity is
being lost at a rate unequalled since the appearance of modern ecosystems more
than 40 million years ago. A quarter of all mammals are threatened with
extinction; and nearly 70% of the world’s fish stocks are fully exploited,
overexploited or depleted."
- Royal Society
noun, an isolated thing, does not exit in nature. Things are
only the terminal points, or rather the meeting points of actions, cross sections cut through actions, snapshots. Neither can a pure
verb, an abstract motion, be possible in nature. The eye sees noun and verb as one, things in motion, motion in things."
- Ernest Fenollosa
"Probe the universe in a myriad of points.
He is a wise man who has taken many views; to whom stones and plants and animals
and a myriad of objects have each suggesting something, contributed something."
- Henry David Thoreau, Journals 1951
"Because a garden mean constantly
it offers almost limitless possibilities for surprise and satisfaction."
- Jane Garmey, The Writer in the Garden
"A monk asked Zen master Yunju Daoying, "What is the one Dharma?"
Yunju said, "What are the ten thousand Dharmas?"
The monk said, "I don't understand how to comprehend this."
Yunju said, "The one Dharma is your own mind. The ten thousand dharmas are your fundamental nature. Are they one thing or two?"
The monk bowed.
Yunju showed the monk a poem that said:
The single Dharma is the essence of all dharmas,
The myriad dharmas penetrate the one Dharma.
"Mind-only: and "nature-only,"
Don't say they're different or the same."
- "Zen's Chinese Heritage: The Masters and Their Teachings" by Andy Ferguson, Wisdom Publications, 2000, p. 212.
"The simplicities of natural laws
arise through the complexities
of the language we use for their expression."
- Eugene Wigner
"Existence consist in the interplay of
a plurality of elements whose true nature is indescribable and whose source is unknown. Combinations of these elements instantaneously
flash into existence and instantaneously disappear, to be succeeded by new combinations of elements appearing in a strict causality."
- Earle Ernst, The Kabuki Theatre
"To make progress in understanding all
this, we probably need to begin with simplified (oversimplified?) models and ignore the critics' tirade that the real world is more complex.
The real world is always more complex, which
has the advantage that we shan't run out of work."
- John Ball, 1984, Memes as Replicators, Ethology and Sociobiology, Vol. 5
"Clouds are not spheres, mountains are
coastlines are not circles, and bark is not smooth,
nor does lightning travel in a straight line."
- Benoit Mandelbrot
"Gardening is about being
grounded, rooted to the here and now with the need to tidy up. It is the
difference between managing life and entering into life, reminding us that
gardening need not
be the fraught, perfectionistic, slightly paranoid struggle that it becomes
for some. Truth is, our love of plants is bound up with a taste for human
error, nature's excesses, and sheer unadulterated indulgence."
- Terry Hershey, Soul Gardening
"Simple pleasures are the last refuge
of the complex."
- Oscar Wilde
know we must protect species because they are working parts of our life-support
- Paul Ehrlich
"How deeply seated in the human heart is the
liking for gardens and gardening."
- Alexander Smith
"An agricultural adage says the tiny
animals that live below the surface of a healthy pasture weigh more than the cows grazing above it. In a catalogue selling composting
equipment I read that two handfuls of healthy soil contain more living organisms than there are people on the earth. What these beings are
and what they can be doing is difficult to even begin to comprehend, but it helps to realize that even thought they are many, they work as one."
- Carol Williams, Bringing a Garden to Life
"Nature goes her own way and all that to us seems an exception is really according to order."
"Making simple matters complex or complex matters
simple are both bad gardening techniques.
Simplifying our relations to things sometimes allows us to live more complex intellectual and emotional lives.
Repetition and diversification are Nature's formulas.
Simplifying and simplicity are never simple matters.
The empty garden is already full.
The happiest gardeners have simply learned how to relax.
The simplest garden is never simple.
It takes four seasons to know one year.
Complexity is closer to the Truth.
Diversity, multiplicity, relations, combinations, mixtures, complexity - rarely just one process or one thing.
Location, location, location ... is also true for plants.
Never just One: fruit, a hoe, the moving Sun."
- Michael P. Garofalo, Pulling Onions
"Plurality should not be assumed
- William of Ockham
"Nature abhors a vacuity
Especially in perpetuity
She finds her felicity
And notices no incongruity."
- Jim Clatfelter
"The motto of science is not just Pauca
but rather Plurima ex paucissimis - the most out of the least."
- M. Bunge, The Myth of Simplicity, 1963
"The human mind can appreciate the One only by seeing it first in the Many."
- Joseph Wood Krutch
"What is important is that complex
systems, richly cross-connected
internally, have complex behaviours, and that these behaviours can be
goal-seeking in complex patterns."
- W. Ross Ashby
"Unity is plural and, at a
minimum, is two."
- R. Buckminster Fuller
we lose a species webreak a life chain which has evolved over 3.5 billion
- Jeffrey McNeely
"For the first half of geological time
our ancestors were bacteria. Most creatures still are bacteria, and each one of our trillions of cells is a colony of bacteria."
- Richard Dawkins
is the greatest treasure we have. Its diminishment is to be prevented at
- Thomas Eisner
"Human beings, viewed as behaving systems, are quite simple.
The apparent complexity of our behavior over time is largely a reflection of the
complexity of the environment in which we find ourselves."
- Herbert Simon
"O Marvelous! What new
configuration will come next?
I am bewildered with multiplicity."
- William Carlos Williams, At Dawn, 1914
"Each one of the Earth's 5
million invertebrate species plays a role in its ecosystem. It's like
we're tearing the cogs out of a great machine. The machine might work
after you tear out ten cogs, but what happens when you tear out a hundred?"
- Scott Black
"A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and
beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise."
- Aldo Leopold
"Life is a banquet, and most fools are starving to death."
The Norns' Chant
"In the midst of darkness, light;
In the midst of death, life;
In the midst of chaos, order.
In the midst of order, chaos;
In the midst of life, death;
In the midst of light, darkness.
Thus has it ever been,
Thus is it now, and
Thus shall it always be."
- Ancient Nordic Spirituality
"Use what talent you possess.
The woods would be very
silent if no birds sang except those that sang best."
- Henry Van Dyke
"Each portion of matter may be
conceived of as a garden full of plants,
and as a pond full of fishes. But each branch of the plant, each member
of the animal, each drop of its humors, is also such a garden or such a pond."
"Every explicit duality is an implicit
- Alan Watts
"Everything is complex
and everything is simple. The rose has
no why attached to it, it blooms because it blooms, how no
thought of itself, or desire to be seen. What could be more
complicated than a rose for someone who wants to understand
it? What could be simpler for someone who wants nothing? The complexity of thinking, the simplicity of beholding."
- Andre Comte-Sponville, A Small Treatise on the Great Virtues
"Nothing can be created out of
"Nil posse creari De nilo."
- Lucretius, 99-55 B.C.
"The only way out is spiritual, intellectual,
and emotional revolution
in which, finally, we learn to experience first hand the interloping
connections between person and person, organism and organism,
action and consequence."
- Gregory Bateson
"Part of the problem today is that we
have a surplus of simple answers and a shortage of simple problems."
- Syracuse Herald
"The number of people
displaced by dams is estimated at between 40 million and 80 million, most of
them in China and India. The costs of dams were on average 50% above their
original estimate. Some designed to reduce flooding made it worse, and there
were many unexpected environmental disadvantages, including the extinction of
fish and bird species. Half the world's wetlands had been lost because of dams."
- Paul Brown
"For if one link in nature's chain might be lost, another might be lost, until the whole of things will vanish by piecemeal."
- Thomas Jefferson
"If you're anxious for to shine in the
high aesthetic line
As a man of culture rare,
You must get up all the germs of the transcendental terms
And plant them everywhere.
You must lie upon the daisies and discourse in novel phrases
Of your complicated state of mind,
The meaning doesn't matter if it's only idle chatter
Of a transcendental kind."
- W.S. Gilbert, Bunthorne's Song from Patience
"To understand the whole it is necessary to understand the parts.
To understand the parts, it is necessary to understand the whole.
Such is the circle of understanding."
- Ken Wilber, Eye of Spirit
"Chaos is a name for any order that
produces confusion in our minds."
- George Santayana
"Everyone is kneaded out of the same dough,
but not baked in the same oven."
- Yiddish Proverb
"We struggle with the complexities
and avoid the simplicities."
- Norman Vincent Peale
"How surely gravity's law,
strong as an ocean current,
takes hold of even the strongest thing
and pulls it toward the heart of the world.
Each thing -
each stone, blossom, child -
is held in place.
Only we, in our arrogance,
push out beyond what we belong to
for some empty freedom.
If we surrendered
to earth's intelligence
we could rise up rooted, like trees.
Instead we entangle ourselves
in knots of our own making
and struggle, lonely and confused.
So, like children, we begin again
to learn from the things,
because they are in God's heart;
they have never left him.
This is what the things can teach us:
patiently to trust our heaviness.
Even a bird has to do that
before he can fly."
- Rainer Maria Rilke, Book of Hours, II, 16
Translated by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy
"May you have warm words on a cold
A full moon on a dark night,
And the road downhill all the way to your door."
- Irish Saying
Months and Seasons
Quotes, Poems, Sayings, Verses, Lore, Myths, Holidays
Celebrations, Folklore, Reading, Links, Quotations
Information, Weather, Gardening Chores
"Exclusiveness in a garden is a
mistake as great as it is in society."
- Alfred Austin
"We live in a rainbow of chaos."
- Paul Cezanne
The Three Laws of Ecology:
First Law: All forms of life are interdependent and interrelated.
When one is disturbed or harmed, all are disturbed or harmed.
Second Law: The stability of ecosystems is dependent upon their diversity.
Greater diversity means more stability.
Eliminating some life forms reduces stability of the whole ecosphere.
Third Law: We must conserve natural resources.
- Adapted from Patrick Moore, co-founder of Greenpeace
beings—are part of 'biodiversity.' We are dependent on the whole food
chain down below us."
- Darrell Merrell
"Everything is contingent, and there is also chaos."
- Spaulding Gray
"In the beginner's mind there are many
in the expert's there are few."
- Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind
"Diversity ... is not polite
accommodation. Instead, diversity is, in action, the sometimes painful awareness that other
people, other races, other voices, other habits of mind, have as much integrity of being, as much claim on the world as
you do. And I urge you, amid all the differences present to the eye and mind, to reach out to create the bond that will
protect us all. We are meant to be here together."
- William Chase
"What is man without the
beasts? If all the beasts were gone, men would die from a great loneliness
of spirit. For whatever happens to the beasts, soon happens to man.
All things are connected."
- Chief Seattle
"When two texts, or two assertions,
perhaps two ideas, are in contradiction, be ready to reconcile them rather than cancel one by the other; regard them as two different
facets, or two successive stages, of the same reality, a reality convincingly human just because it is complex."
- Marguerite Yourcenar
"To study the self is to forget the
To forget the self is to be enlightened by the ten thousand things."
- Zen Master Dogen
"The complexity of things - the things within things - just seems to be
endless. I mean nothing is easy, nothing is simple."
- Alice Munro
"Civilization has ceased
to be that delicate flower which was preserved and painstakingly cultivated in
one or two sheltered areas of a soil rich in wild species ... Mankind has opted
for monoculture; it is in the process of creating a mass civilization, as
beetroot is grown in the mass. Henceforth, man's daily bill of fare will consist
only of this one item."
- Claude Levi-Strauss
"The more we understand individual things,
the more we understand God."
- Benedict De Spinoza
"God is in the details."
- Mies Van Der Rohe
"Caress the detail, the divine detail."
- Vladimir Nabokov
"Natural species are the
library from which genetic engineers can work."
- Thomas E. Lovejoy
"Details are all there are."
- Maezumi Roshi
"We think in generalities, but we live in
- W.H. Auden
"If you take care of the little things, the big things take care of themselves."
- R. Reese
"We work with the stuff of the soul by means of the things of life."
- Thomas Moore
"The current massive
degradation of habitat and extinction of species is taking place on a
catastrophically short timescale, and their effects will fundamentally reset the
future evolution of the planet's biota."
- National Academy of Sciences
"To study the self is to forget the
To forget the self is to be enlightened by the ten thousand things."
- Zen Master Dogen
"Pay attention to minute particulars. Take care of the little ones.
Generalization and abstraction are the plea of the hypocrite, scoundrel, and knave."
- William Blake
"The object of our lives is to look at,
listen to, touch, taste things.
Without them, - these sticks, stones, feathers, shells, -
there is no Deity."
- R. H. Blyth, Zen in English Literature and Oriental Classics, p. 144.
"When we look for things there is nothing but mind,
and when we look for mind there is nothing but things."
- Alan Watts, The Way of Zen, p 131
"Do things noncoercively (wuwei),
Be non-interfering in going about your business (wushi),
And savor the flavor of the unadulterated in what you eat. Treat the small as great and the few as many.
Requite enmity with character (de).
Take account of the difficult while it is still easy,
And deal with the large while it is still tiny.
The most difficult things in the world originate with the easy,
And the largest issues originate with the tiny.
Thus, it is because the sages never try to do great things
That they are indeed able to be great.
One who makes promises lightly is sure to have little credibility;
One who finds everything easy is certain to have lots of difficulties.
Thus, it is because even the sages pay careful attention to such things
That they are always free of difficulties."
- Chapter 63, Daodejing
Translation by Roger T. Ames and David L. Hall
"All ethics so far evolved rest upon a
single premise: that the individual is a member of a community of interdependent parts. His instincts prompt him to
compete for his place in that community, but his ethics prompt him also to co-operate (perhaps in order that there may be a
place to compete for). ... The land ethic simply enlarges the
boundaries of the community to include soils, waters, plants, and animals..."
- Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac
"Statistics are like a bikini.
What they reveal is suggestive,
but what they conceal is vital."
- Aaron Levenstein
"Step out onto the Planet.
Draw a circle a hundred feet round.
Inside the circle are
300 things nobody understands, and, maybe
nobody's ever really seen.
How many can you find?"
- Lew Welch
"We cannot win this battle
to save species and environments without forging an emotional bond between
ourselves and nature as well - for we will not fight to save what we do not
- Stephen Jay Gould
"Soil . . . scoop up a handful of the
magic stuff. Look at it closely.
What wonders it holds as it lies there in your palm. Tiny sharp
grains of sand, little faggots of wood and leaf fiber, infinitely small
round pieces of marble, fragments of shell, specks of black carbon,
a section of vertebrae from some minute creature. And mingling
with it all the dust of countless generations of plants and flowers,
trees, animals and yes our own, age-long forgotten forebears,
gardeners of long ago. Can this incredible composition be
the common soil?"
- Stuart Maddox Masters, The Seasons Through
"Everything is both simpler than we can
imagine, and more complicated that we can conceive."
"The truth is rarely pure
and never simple."
- Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest
"The value of biodiversity
is more than the sum of its parts."
- Byran G. Norton
"Chaos is the score upon which reality is written."
- Henry Miller
"The theory of evolution by cumulative natural selection is the only theory
we know of that is in principle of capable of explaining the existence of
- Richard Dawkins
"For the beginning is assuredly
the end -- since we know nothing, pure
and simple, beyond
our own complexities."
- William Carlos Williams, Patterson, 1946, Book I, p.3
"Life emerged, I suggest, not simple, but complex and
whole, and has remained complex and whole ever sincenot because of a mysterious élan vital,
but thanks to the simple, profound transformation of dead molecules into an organization by which each molecule's formation is
catalyzed by some other molecule in the organization. The secret of life, the wellspring of reproduction, is not to be
found in the beauty of Watson-Crick pairing, but in the achievement of collective catalytic closure.
So, in another sense, lifecomplex, whole, emergentis simple after all, a natural outgrowth of the world in which we live."
- Stuart Kauffman, At Home in the Universe, p. 47
"We consider species to
be like a brick in the foundation of a building. You can probably lose one or
two or a dozen bricks and still have a standing house. But by the time you've
lost 20 per cent of species, you're going to destabilize the entire structure.
That's the way ecosystems work."
- Donald Falk
"You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things."
- Mary Oliver, Wild Geese
The Spirit of Gardening
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