The Unknown Gardener

            Nearly every week, from May through September, their mothers and fathers took detours on the way home from the market, or from work, or from picking the children up from music lessons.  They walked through a gate on a small lane, into a walled garden lush with lilies, roses, dahlias, agapanthus, poppies–of every color, shape and size.  There, they cut flowers with the scissors they found in a basket, then returned the scissors with some coins and hurried home to put the flowers in water.   “Whose garden is this?” the children asked.  “Why do we never see the gardener?  Can anyone cut the flowers?  How do you know how much money to leave?”  Their parents never answered them except with generalities: “Be glad we have beauty in our house,” or, “Every gardener likes to share,” or “When you put the coins in the basket, you should make a wish, say a blessing.”  The children sneaked away from their parents to try the gate, but often found it locked.  When it was open, and they ventured inside, they found the garden as it always was, rich in variety and color, with nobody there but themselves.  The children began to make up stories about the gardener.  He was a hunchback, afraid to be seen.  She was a crazy person, who might attack them with a knife.  He had committed a crime, and the garden was his penance.  She was rich, paid others to create and cultivate her garden, and her generosity to their parents was a way to show she was better than them.  Two of the children decided to find out the truth.  They would sneak into the garden and begin to destroy it.  Surely the gardener would stop them.  One day they pulled lilies from the ground, they chopped down rose bushes, they dug up dahlias and trampled begonias, they snapped petunias and goldenrod.  Nobody and nothing descended upon them but their own futility, recklessness, unfulfilled curiosity, their own destruction.

"The Unknown Gardener" first appeared in Scissors and Spackle







Jasmine intertwined

Garden trowels

Wine bottle

Iris flowers

Empty hammock

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