Labor, Effort, Sweat, Practice, Employment

Quotes for Gardeners, Lovers of the Green Way, Thinkers, and Friends of the Earth

Compiled by Michael P. Garofalo
Green Way Research, Valley Spirit Center, Vancouver, Washington, USA


Monthly Chores     Gardening     Willpower     Virtue Ethics

How to Live a Good Life: Advice from Wise Persons

Cloud Hands Blog   







"Every kind of work can be a pleasure. Even simple household tasks can be an opportunity to exercise and expand our caring, our effectiveness, our responsiveness. As we respond with caring and vision to all work, we develop our capacity to respond fully to all of life. Every action generates positive energy which can be shared with others. These qualities of caring and responsiveness are the greatest gift we can offer."
-  Tarthang Tulku


"When the sun rises, I go to work.
When the sun goes down I take my rest,
I dig the well from which I drink,
I farm the soil which yields my food,
I share creation, Kings can do no more."
-  Chinese Proverb  


     "And the real name of our connection to this everywhere different and differently named earth is “work.” We are connected by work even to the places where we don’t work, for all places are connected; it is clear by now that we cannot exempt one place from our ruin of another. The name of our proper connection to the earth is “good work,” for good work involves much giving of honor. It honors the source of its materials; it honors the place where it is done; it honors the art by which it is done; it honors the thing that it makes and the user of the made thing. Good work is always modestly scaled, for it cannot ignore either the nature of individual places or the differences between places, and it always involves a sort of religious humility, for not everything is known. Good work can be defined only in particularity, for it must be defined a little differently for every one of the places and every one of the workers on the earth.
     The name of our present society’s connection to the earth is “bad work” – work that is only generally and crudely defined, that enacts a dependence that is ill understood, that enacts no affection and gives no honor. Every one of us is to some extent guilty of this bad work. This guilt does not mean that we must indulge in a lot of breast-beating and confession; it means only that there is much good work to be done by every one of us and that we must begin to do it.”

-  Wendell Berry 


"Good work is dignified. It develops your faculties and serves your community.  It is a central human activity.  Work, in this view: makes you honest with yourself, requires that you develop your faculties and skills, empowers you to do what you are really good at and love to do, connects you in a compassionate way with the outside world, supports the philosophy of non-destructiveness and sustainability, and integrates work with personal life and community."
-  Roger Pritchard


"Once one knows what really matters, one ceases to be voluble.  And what does really matter?  That is easy: thinking and doing, doing and thinking - and these are the sum of all wisdom.  Both must move ever onward in life, to and fro, like breathing in and breathing out.  Whoever makes it a rule to test action by thought, thought by action, cannot falter, and if he does, will soon find his way back to the right road."
-  Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


"No occupation is so delightful to me as the culture of the earth, no culture comparable to that of the garden ... But though an old man, I am but a young gardener."
-  Thomas Jefferson


"Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work."
-  Thomas A. Edison


"If it weren't for the last minute, nothing would ever get done."


"Those who see worldly live as an obstacle to Dharma see no Dharma in everyday actions; they have not discovered that there are no everyday actions outside of Dharma."
-  Zen Master Dogen


"The gardener's work is never at end; it begins with the year, and continues to the next: he prepares the ground, and then he sows it; after that he plants,
and then he gathers the fruits....
-  John Evelyn


"Gardening requires lots of water - most of it in the form of perspiration."
-   Lou Erickson


"Don't count the days, make the days count."


"A fallow field is a sin."
-  John Steinbeck


"The highest reward for a person's toil is not what they get for it, but what they become by it."
-  John Ruskin


"The more help a man has in his garden, the less it belongs to him."
-  William M. Davies


"Man was not made to rust out in idleness.  A degree of exercise is as necessary for the preservation of health, both of body and mind, as his daily food.  And what
exercise is more fitting, or more appropriate of one who is in the decline of life, than that of superintending a well-ordered garden?  What more enlivens the sinking
mind?   What is more conducive to a long life?
-  Joseph Breck


"What will I do when I can no longer dig?" 
-  Knute Hamson


"What this country needs is dirtier fingernails and cleaner minds."
-  Will Rogers


"When you pray for potatoes, grab a hoe."
-   Mrs. Jamieson


"Enough shovels of earth - a mountain.  Enough pails of water - a river."
-  Chinese proverb


"Cares melt when you kneel in your garden."


"All good work is done the way ants do things: Little by little."
-  Lafcadio Hearn


"Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs."
-  Henry Ford 


"No sweat, no sanctification."
-  Russ Gaippe


"Each small task of everyday life is part of the total harmony of the  universe."
-  St. Theresa of Lisieux


"The one small garden of a free gardener was all his need and due, not a garden swollen to a realm; his own hands to use, not the hands of others to command."
-   J.R.R. Tolkien,  The Lord of the Rings, Sam Gamgee


"The artist is nothing without the gift, but the gift is nothing without work."
-  Emile Zola


"The work of art is born of the intelligence's refusal to reason the concrete.  It marks the triumph of the carnal."
-  Albert Camus


 "We have art in order not to perish of truth.
-  Friedrich Nietzsche


"Gardening is something you learn by doing — and by making mistakes....  Like cooking, gardening is a constant process of experimentation, repeating the successes and 
throwing out the failures."
-  Carol Stocker


"So, yes, I do experience a type of reverie as a gardener.  But it is not something I control or strive for.  When I find spirituality in my garden, it seems to go hand in hand with hard work and diligence.  Like a burst of sunshine on a cloudy day, a feeling of peace will come over me and grab me by surprise.  I don't really know why or how it happens.  But then again, I wouldn't want it any other way."
-  Fran Sorin


"It is better to wear out than to rust out."
-  Richard Cumberland


"This is the real secret of life - to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now.  And instead of calling it work, realize it is play."
-  Alan Watts, Work as Play


"These are the hands whose sturdy labor brings
The peasant's food, the golden pomp of kings;
This is the page whose letters shall be seen,
Changed by the sun to words of living green;
This is the scholar whose immortal pen
Spells the first lesson hunger taught to men;
These are the lines that heaven-commanded Toil
Shows on his deed, - the charter of the soil!"
-   Oliver Wendell Holmes,  The Ploughman, 1809 - 1894


"No race can prosper until it learns there is as much dignity in tilling a field as in writing a poem."
-  Booker T. Washington


"Early to bed, early to rise,
Work like hell: fertilize."
-  Emily Whaley



Advice     Beauty     Bibliography     Blog     Body-Mind     Broad Minded     Cheerfulness     Conservation       

Contemplation     Desires     Dharmapada Sutra     Education     Epicureanism     Equanimity     Ethics

Feeling     Fitness     Five Senses     Friendship     Gardening     Generosity     Good Life 

Happiness     Hedonism    Hospitality     Independence     Index     Kindness    Learning     Lifestyle     Links    

Meditation     Memory     Mindfulness     Moderation     Neo-Paganism     Open Minded     Paramitas    

Patience     Philosophy     Play     Pleasures     Qigong     Reading     Secular     Self-Reliance    

Sensory Pleasures     Simplicity     Solitude    Somaesthetics     Spirituality     Stoicism    Taijiquan    

Tao Te Ching     Thinking     Tolerance     Touching     Tranquility    Vigor     Virtues     Vision     Vitality    

Walking     Willpower     Wisdom     Wonder     Work     Yoga     Zen Precepts      



"Work is love made visible."
-  Khalil Gibran


"Opportunities multiply as they are seized."
-  Sun Tzu


"It will not always be summer: build barns."
-  Hesiod


"Even if you are on the right track you will still get run over if you just sit there."
-  Will Rogers


"Believe in yourself, your neighbors, your work, your ultimate attainment of more complete happiness.  It is only the farmer who faithfully plants seeds in the
Spring, who reaps a harvest in Autumn."
-  B. C. Forbes


"Gardeners are - let's face it - control freaks.  Who else would willingly spend his leisure hours wresting weeds out of the ground, blithely making life or death decisions about living beings, moving earth from here to there, changing the course of waterways?  The more one thinks about it, the odder it seems; this compulsion to remake a little corner of the planet according to some plan or vision."
-   Abby Adams, What is a Garden Anyway


"Monotony is the law of nature.   Look at the monotonous manner in which the sun rises.  The monotony of necessary occupations is exhilarating and life-giving."
-  Mahatma Gandhi


"There are no passengers on spaceship earth.  We are all crew."
-  Marshall McLuhan


"Any garden demands as much of its maker as he has to give.  But I do not need to tell you, if you are a gardener, that not other undertaking will give as great
a return for the amount of effort put into it."
-  Elizabeth Lawrence 


"All the so-called "secrets of success" will not work unless you do."


"Like a beautiful flower that is colorful but has no fragrance, even well spoken words bear no fruit in one who does not put them into practice."
Dhammapada, Sayings of the Buddha, Pali Cannon


"Although the summer sunlight gild
Cloudy leafage of the sky,
Or wintry moonlight sink the field
In storm-scattered intricacy,
I cannot look thereon
Responsibility so weighs me down."
-  William Butler Yeats


"When your garden is finished I hope it will be more beautiful that you anticipated, require less care than you expected, and have cost only a little more than you had planned." 
Thomas D. Church


"Diamonds are only chunks of coal
That stuck to their jobs, you see."
-  Minnie Richard Smith


"Successful gardening is doing what has to be done when it has to be done the way it ought to be done whether you want to do it or not."
-  Jerry Baker


"When your work speaks for itself, don't interrupt."
-  Henry J. Kaiser


"Peace is the fruit of activity, not of sleep."
-  Ancient Egyptian proverb


Agi quod agis
Do what you are doing.


"Work is prayer.  Work is also stink.  Therefore stink is prayer."
-  Aldous Huxley


"I slept and dreamed that life was beauty.
I awoke -- and found that life was duty."
-  Ellen Stugis Hooper


"Life comes before literature, as the material comes before the work.  The hills are full of marble before the world blooms with statues."
-  Phillips Brooks


"To be the agent whose touch changes nature from a wild force to a work of art is inspiration of the highest order."
-  Bob Rodale


"Thought is the blossom, language the bud, action the fruit behind."
-  Ralph Waldo Emerson


"The order of things should be somewhat reversed; the seventh day should be man's day of toil and the other six his sabbath of the affections and the soul--in which to range this widespread garden and drink in the soft influences and sublime revelations of nature."
-  Henry David Thoreau


"In his garden every man may be his own artist without apology or explanation.  Each within his green enclosure is a creator, and no two shall reach the same conclusion; nor shall we, any more than other creative workers, be ever wholly satisfied with our accomplishment.  Ever a season ahead of us floats the vision of perfection and herein lies its perennial charm."
-  Louise Beebe Wilder


"But these are all landsmen; of week days pent up in lath and plaster─tied to counters, nailed to benches, clinched to desks.  How then is this?  Are the green fields gone?  What do they here?"
-  Herman Melville, 1851, Moby Dick, p. 13
Could we not add, in 2017, transfixed by televisions, glued to computers, plugged into AC/DC, wrapped in chores, ...   "What do they here?"


"There are two kinds of people, those who do the work and those who take the credit. Try to be in the first group; there is less competition there."
-  Indira Gandhi


"The plants arrive, usually on a day that is either raining or requires one's presence elsewhere, work perhaps.  Plant orders do not arrive on sunny, warm Saturday mornings."
-  Steve Hatch


"Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil and you're a thousand miles from the corn field."
-  Dwight David Eisenhower


"No ray of sunshine is ever lost, but the green which it awakens into existence needs time to sprout, and it is not always granted for the sower to see the harvest.  All work that is worth anything is done in faith."
-  Albert Schweitzer


"By doing just a little every day, I can gradually let the task completely overwhelm me."
-  Ashleigh Brilliant


"Always leave enough time in your life to do something that makes you happy, satisfied, or even joyous.  That has more of an effect on economic well-being than any other single factor."
-  Paul Hawken


"I trust in Nature for the stable laws
Of beauty and utility. 
Spring shall plant
And Autumn garner to the end of time."
-  Robert Browning


"A year from now you may wish you had started today."
-  Karen Lamb


"Let no one think that real gardening is a bucolic and meditative occupation. It is an insatiable passion, like everything else to which a man gives his heart."
-  Karel Capek


"Genius is 99 percent perspiration and 1 percent inspiration."
-  Thomas Edison


"Little by little, even with other cares, the slowly but surely working poison of the garden mania begins to stir in my long-sluggish veins."
-  Henry James


"Begin somewhere. You cannot build a reputation on what you intend to do."
-  Liz Smith


"I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have."
-  Thomas Jefferson


"There can be no other occupation like gardening in which, if you were to creep up behind someone at their work, you would find them smiling."
-  Mirabel Osler


"I'm struck by the insidious, computer-driven tendency to take things out of the domain of muscular activity and put them into the domain of mental activity.  The transfer is not paying off.  Sure, muscles are unreliable, but they represent several million years of accumulated finesse."
-  Brian Eno


"There is dignity in work only when it is work freely accepted."
-  Albert Camus


"What a man needs in gardening is a cast-iron back, with a hinge in it."
-  Charles Dudley Warner


"An undefined problem has an infinite number of solutions."
-  Robert A. Humphrey


"Gardening is a matter of your enthusiasm holding up until your back gets used to it."
-  Anonymous


"If you don't live it, it won't come out your horn."
-  Charlie Parker


"For me, a garden is peace of mind.  It immediately takes my mind off the thing I'm puzzling about in my work and gives me repose."
-  Henry Louis Gates Jr.


"My green thumb came only as a result of the mistakes I made while learning to see things from the plant's point of view."
-  H. Fred Ale


"Happiness is possible only when one is busy.  The body must toil, the mind must be occupied, and the heart must be satisfied. Those who do good
as opportunity offers are sowing seed all the time, and they need not doubt the harvest.
Apples of Gold


"When I go into my garden with a spade, and dig a bed, I feel such an exhilaration and health that I discover that I have been defrauding myself all this time in
letting others do for me what I should have done with my own hands."
-  Ralph Waldo Emerson


"The way of cultivation is not easy.  
He who plants a garden plants happiness."
-  Author Unknown


"When all is said and done, is there any more wonderful sight, any moment when man's reason is nearer to some sort of contact with the nature of the world than the sowing of seeds, the planting of  cuttings, the transplanting of shrubs or the grafting of slips."
-  St. Augustine


"Gardening is the only unquestionably useful job."
-  George Bernard Shaw


"Hold yourself responsible for a higher standard than anybody else expects of you.  Never excuse yourself.  Never pity yourself. Be a hard taskmasker to yourself -- and be lenient with everybody else."
-  Henry Ward Beecher


"To cultivate a garden is to walk with God."
-  Christain Nestell Bovee


"Who sows a field, or trains a flower,
Or plants at tree, is more than all."
-  John Greenleaf Whittier


"Practice is the seedbed of miracles."
- Michael Murphy


"He worked like hell in the country so he could live in the city, where he worked like hell so he could live in the country."
-  Don Marquis


"At the heart of it, mastery is practice.  Mastery is staying on the path."
-  George Leonard


"Those who are tentative about making plans are often unsure of their ability to show up."
-  Author Unknown


"If you pursue evil with pleasure, the pleasure passes away and the evil remains;
If you pursue good with labor, the labor passes away but the good remains."
-  Cicero


"To have striven, to have made an effort, to have been true to certain ideals -- this alone is worth the struggle.  We are here to add what we can to, not to get what we can from, life."
-  Sir William Osler


"The future is made of the same stuff as the present."
-  Simone Weil


"Personally, I have nothing against work, particularly when performed quietly and unobtrusively by someone else."
-  Barbara Ehrenreich 


"The supreme accomplishment is to blur the line between work and play."
-  Arnold Toynbee


"Green fingers are the extension of a verdant heart."
-  Russell Page


"The hardest work is to go idle."
-  Yiddish proverb


"I plant the seed,
You make it grow.
You send the rain,
I work the hoe."
-  Author Unknown


"Blessed is he who has found his work.  Let him ask no other blessedness."
-  Thomas Carlyle


"The great men among the ancients understood very well how to reconcile manual labour with affairs of state, and thought it no lessening to their dignity to make the one the recreation to the other.  That indeed which seems most generally to have employed and diverted their spare hours, was agriculture.  Gideon among the Jews was taken from threshing, as well as Cincinnatus amongst the Romans from the plough, to command the armies of their countries ... and, as I remember, Cyrus thought gardening so little beneath the dignity and grandeur of a throne, that he showed Xenophon a large field of fruit trees all of his own planting   ...  Delving, planting, inoculating, or any the like profitable employments would be no less a diversion than any of the idle sports in fashion, if men could be be brought to delight in them."
-  John Locke


"A person who loves his or her work
Is like a plant in the right spot:
There growth is maximized
And the yield is greatest."
-  Jeff Cox


"Bowed by the weight of centuries he leans
Upon his hoe and gazes at the ground,
The emptiness of ages in his face,
And on his back the burden of the world."
-  Edwin Markham


"When you do something, you should burn yourself up completely, like a good bonfire, leaving no trace of yourself."
-  Shunryu Suzuki


"The best things in life are nearest: Breath in your nostrils, light in your eyes, flowers at your feet, duties at your hand, the path of right just before you.  Then do not grasp at the stars, but do life's plain, common work as it comes, certain that daily duties and daily bread are the sweetest things in life."
-  Robert Louis Stevenson


"To forget how to dig the earth and to tend the soil is to forget ourselves."
-  Mahatma Gandhi


"It does not matter how slowly you go, as long as you do not stop."
-   Confucius


"Let no one be deluded that a knowledge of the path can substitute for putting one foot in front of the other."
-  M. C. Richards


"Zen is not some kind of excitement, but concentration on our usual everyday routine."
-  Shunryu Suzuki


"You've a darned long row to hoe."
-  James R. Lowell


"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit."
-  Aristotle


"As Paradise (though of God's own Planting) was no longer Paradise than the Man was put into it, to dress it and to keep it, so nor will our Gardens
remain long in their perfection unless they are also continually cultivated."
-  John Evelyn


"Well done is better than well said."
-  Benjamin Franklin


"Joyful is the accumulation of good work."
-  Buddha


"Hoeing in the garden on a bright, soft May day, when you are not obligated to, is nearly equal to the delight of going trout fishing."
-  Charles Dudley Warner


"The best insurance policy for tomorrow is to make the most productive use of today."
-  Author Unknown


"A lot of what passes for depression these days is nothing more than a body saying that it needs work."
-  Geoffrey Norman


"The shortest answer is doing."
-  English proverb


"No man is born into the world, whose work
Is not born with him; there is always work,
And tools to work withal, for those who will:
And blessed are the horny hands of toil!"
-  James R. Lowell


"The work an unknown good man has done is like a vein of water flowing hidden underground, secretly making the ground green."
-  Thomas Carlyle


"You are right," said Pangloss, "for when man was placed in the Garden of Eden, he was placed there ut operaretur eum, to dress it and keep it;
which proves that man was not born for idleness."
-  Voltaire 


"Thy leaf has perished in the green,
And while we breathe beneath the sun,
The world which credits what is done
Is cold to all that might have been."
-  Alfred Tennyson


"Hard work doesn't harm anyone, but I do not want to take any chances."
-  Author Unknown


"A vision without a task is but a dream,
a task without a vision is drudgery,
a vision and a task
is the hope of the world."
-  Found on a wall in a Church is Sussex, England, circa 1730


"A major part of successful living lies in the ability to put first things first.  Indeed the reason most major goals are not achieved is that we
spend our time doing second things first."
-  Robert J. McKain


"Then seek your job with thankfulness and work till further orders,
If it's only netting strawberries or killing slugs on borders;
And when your back stops aching and your hands begin to harden,
You will find yourself a partner in the Glory of the Garden.
-  Rudyard Kipling


"Put you heart, mind, intellect and soul even into your smallest acts.  This is the secret of success."
-  Swami Sivananda


"Who wouldn't like to go out walking
in a pair of shoes had-made by Boehme?
Or delight in eating a mandarin orange
from the Lacquered Garden of Chang-Tzu?

Who wouldn't like to play a song
on a reed flute made by Krishna?
Or sit down hungry at the table
on a wooden bench constructed by Jesus?

Simple and practical masterpieces.

Maybe at the road's end all that matters
is the splendor springing from a completed task.
The quantity of energy gathered in each work."
Alberto Blanco


"You cannot plough a field by turning it over in your mind."
- Anonymous


"Most people are more comfortable with old problems than with new solutions."
-  Anonymous


"The grand essentials to happiness in this life are something to do, something to love, and something to hope for."
-  Joseph Addison


"I have never had so many good ideas day after day as when I work in the garden."
-  John Erskine


"The true husbandman will cease from anxiety, as the squirrels manifest no concern whether the woods will bear chestnuts this year or not, and finish his labor with every day, relinquishing all claim to the produce of his fields, and sacrificing in his mind not only his first but last fruits also."
-  Henry David Thoreau, Walden


"The best fertilizer is the gardener's shadow."
-  Author Unknown


"He who works his land will have abundant food."
-  Proverbs 12:11


"If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be.  Now put the foundations under them."
-  Henry David Thoreau


"If it is to be, it is up to me!"
-  Author Unknown


"A thinking human, that does, is worth fifty that just eat."
-  Richard Perez


"All gardeners need to know when to accept something wonderful and unexpected, taking no credit except for letting it be."
-  Allen Lacy


"Among gardeners, enthusiasm and experience rarely exist in equal measures." 
-  Roger B. Swain


"Man matures through work.  Which inspires him to difficult good.
-  Pope John Paul II


"To know and to act are one and the same."
-  Samurai proverb


"How to attract honey from the flower of the world - that is my everyday business. I am busy as a bee about it."
-  Henry David Thoreau


"If you grow a garden you are going to shed some sweat, and you are going to spend some time bent over; you will experience some aches and pains.  But it is in the willingness to accept this discomfort that we strike the most telling blow against the power plants and what they represent."
-  Wendell Berry


"The only thing that endures over time is the 'Law of the Farm.'  You must prepare the ground, plant the seed, cultivate, and water if you expect to reap the harvest."
-  Stephen R. Covey


"You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed."
-  Antoine De Saint-Exupery 




Advice     Beauty     Bibliography     Blog     Body-Mind     Broad Minded     Cheerfulness     Conservation       

Contemplation     Desires     Dharmapada Sutra     Education     Epicureanism     Equanimity     Ethics

Feeling     Fitness     Five Senses     Friendship     Gardening     Generosity     Good Life 

Happiness     Hedonism    Hospitality     Independence     Index     Kindness    Learning     Lifestyle     Links    

Meditation     Memory     Mindfulness     Moderation     Neo-Paganism     Open Minded     Paramitas    

Patience     Philosophy     Play     Pleasures     Qigong     Reading     Secular     Self-Reliance    

Sensory Pleasures     Simplicity     Solitude    Somaesthetics     Spirituality     Stoicism    Taijiquan    

Tao Te Ching     Thinking     Tolerance     Touching     Tranquility    Vigor     Virtues     Vision     Vitality    

Walking     Willpower     Wisdom     Wonder     Work     Yoga     Zen Precepts      




"If you want a thing well done, do it yourself."
-  Charles Haddon Spurgeon


"After all is said and done, a hell of a lot more is said than done."
Murphy's Laws


"My idea of housework is to sweep the room with a glance."
-  Author Unknown


"The work of a garden bears visible fruits - in a world where most of our labours seem suspiciously meaningless."
-  Pam Brown


"Unemployment is capitalism's way of getting you to plant a garden."
-  Orson Scott Card 


"He who does not cultivate his field, will die of hunger."
-  Proverb from Guinea


"Remember, people will judge you by your actions, not your intentions. You may have a heart of gold - but so does a hard-boiled egg."
-  Author Unknown


"The man who makes no mistakes does not usually make anything."
-  Edward Phelps


"Many able Gardiners and Husbandmen are yet Ignorant of the Reason of their Calling; as most Artificers are of the Reason of their own Rules that govern their excellent Workmanship. But a Naturalist and Mechanick of this sort is Master of the Reason of both, and might be of the Practice too, if his Industry kept pace with his Speculation; which were every commendable; and without which he cannot be said to be a complete Naturalist or Mechanick."
-  William Penn, Some Fruits of Solitude In Reflections And Maxims, 1682


"It is far easier to start something than it is to finish it."
-  Amelia Earhart


" "Sweep the garden, any size,' said the roshi.  Sweeping, sweeping alone as the garden grows large or small.  Any song sung working the garden brings up from sand gravel soil through straw bamboo wood and less tangible elements. A power song for the hands, a healing song for the senses.  What can and cannot be perceived of the soul."
-  Olga Broumas


"All the past we leave behind;
We debouch upon a newer, mightier world, varied world,
Fresh and strong the world we seize, world of labor and the march,
Pioneers! O Pioneers!"
-  Walt Whitman


"Callused palms and black fingernails precede a Green Thumb.   
Work - the activity that interferes with gardening.
When all the chores are done, the avid gardener will invent some new ones.
Gardening dissolves mental chatter in the sweat of bodily effort.  
How can gardening be considered a "leisure time" activity?
All play and no work makes Jack a dull boy - and a pain in the neck for others. 
We already live in the Garden of Eden, but we now have to work to keep it growing.
By the garden one knows the gardener. 
To dig is to discover. 
The toil and sweat open ourselves to fruitful possibilities. 
The wise gardener knows when to stop."
-   Michael P. Garofalo,
Pulling Onions: The Maxims of Gardening


"It is not how busy you are, but why you are busy - the bee is praised, the mosquito is swatted."
-  Author Unknown


"The greatest thing is a life of obedience in the routine things of everyday life.  No amount of fine feeling can take the place of faithful doing."
-  William Barclay


"There is no rest for the gardener ... but there is dessert."
-  Author Unknown


"I think that most people want the word garden to be a noun which describes a place that you have set aside for your plants, so that the word gardening would be a verb that describes what you are doing when you work in your 'garden.  In my philosophy, garden is a verb; it is what you do.  And, gardening is a noun that describes not what you did, but what you got when you gardened."
-  Tom Clothier,
Gardening Walk and Talk


"A day without work is a day without eating."
-  Pai-chang


"The best way to garden is to put on a wide-brimmed straw hat and some old clothes.  And with a hoe in one hand and a cold drink in the other, tell somebody else where to dig."
-  Texas Bix Bender


"How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world."
-  Anne Frank


"Because work addiction keeps us busy, we stay estranged from our essential selves.  An aspect of that estrangement is that we cease asking ourselves if we are doing our right work.   Are we actually doing our true work, performing tasks or pursuing vocations that are good for us, for our families, for the universe? "
-  Diane Fassel


"It is not enough to be busy, so are the ants.  The question is, what are we busy about?"
-  Henry David Thoreau


"The only way to get positive feelings about yourself is to take positive actions.   Man does not live as he thinks, he thinks as he lives."
Vaughan Quinn


"If he does not plant the field that was given over to him as a garden, if it be arable land, the gardener shall pay the owner the produce of the field for the years that he let it lie fallow, according to the product of neighboring fields, put the field in arable condition and return it to its owner."
Code of Hammurabi, 1792 B.C.


"A green thumb is nothing more than hard work and the desire to make things grow."
-  Albert E. Tuttle


"Come my spade.  There is no ancient gentlemen but gardeners, ditchers, and grave-makers; they hold up Adam's profession."
-  Shakespeare, Hamlet V,i


"There are few gardens that can be left alone.  A few years of neglect and only the skeleton of a garden can be traced.  ...  Japanese artists working with a few stones and sand four hundred years ago achieved strangely lasting compositions.  However there, too, but for the hands that have piously raked the white sand into patterns and controlled the spread of moss and lichens, little would remain."
-  Russell Page, The Education of a Gardener, 1962


"A man should never plant a garden larger than his wife can take care of." 
-   T.H. Everett


"If you see a whole thing - it seems that it's always beautiful.  Planets, lives ...   But close up a world's all dirt and rocks.  And day to day, life's a hard job, you get tired, you lose the pattern."
-  Ursula K. LeGuin




Months and Seasons
Quotes, Poems, Sayings, Verses, Lore, Myths, Holidays
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Compiled by Mike Garofalo




















"Science, or para-science, tells us that geraniums bloom better if they are spoken to.  But a kind word every now and then is really quite enough.  Too much attention, like too much feeding, and weeding and hoeing, inhibits and embarrasses them."
-  Victoria Glendinning


"It's easy to say no.  But to say yes, you have to sweat and roll up your sleeves and plunge both hands into life up to the elbows."
-  Jean Anouilh


"What, if anything, do the infinity of different traditional and individual ideas of a garden have in common?  They vary so much in purpose, in size, in style and content that not even flowers, or even plants at all, can be said to be essential.  In the last analysis, there is only one common factor between all gardens, and this is the control of nature by man.  Control, that is, for aesthetic reasons...  The essence is control.  Without constant watchful care a garden - any garden - rapidly returns to the state of the country all around it."
-  Hugh Johnson, The Principles of Gardening, 1979


"It is a blessed sort of work, and if Eve had had a spade in Paradise and known what to do with it, we should not have had all that sad business of the apple."
-  Elizabeth von Arnim, 1898


"One of the most important resources that a garden makes available for use, is the gardener's own body.  A garden gives the body the dignity of working in its own support.  It is a way of rejoining the human race."
-  Wendell Berry


"Two hands working can do more than a thousand clasped in prayer."
-  Author Unknown 


Orare est laborare, laborare est orare.
To pray is to work, to work is to pray.
-  Benedictine Order Motto


"It was difficult to enjoy the trees and flowers when I was so aware of all that I had not yet done - pruning, weeding, transplanting, mulching,
composting, tagging.  When I was doing the work myself, I was happy, free."
-  Jay Neugeboren


"Life on a small farm might seem primitive, but by living such a life we become able to discover the Great Path.  I believe that one who deeply 
respects his neighborhood and everyday world in which he lives will be shown the greatest of all worlds." 
-  Masanobu Fukuoka


"I used to imagine him
coming from the house, like Merlin
strolling with important gestures
through the garden
where everything grows so thickly,
where birds sing, little snakes lie
on the boughs, thinking of nothing
but their own good lives,
where petals float upward,
their colors exploding,
and trees open their moist
pages of thunder --
it has happened every summer for years.

But now I know more
about the great wheel of growth,
and decay, and rebirth,
and know my vision for a falsehood.
Now I see him coming from the house --
I see him on his knees,
cutting away the diseased, the superfluous,
coaxing the new,
knowing that the hour of fulfillment
is buried in years of patience --
yet willing to labor like that
on the mortal wheel."
- Mary Oliver,
Stanley Kunitz











The Spirit of Gardening Website

Over 3,500 Quotations, Poems, Sayings, Quips, One-Liners, Clichés, Quotes, and Insights
Arranged by Over 250 Topics
Over 15 Megabytes of Text
Over 26 Million Webpages (excluding graphics) Served to Readers Around the World
       From January 1, 1999 through December 31, 2015 from the Spirit of Gardening Website.  
Compiled by
Mike Garofalo

Last modified or updated on June 15, 2017.

This webpage was first posted on the Internet on April 1, 2000. 



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