Blog Post for AU Student Gardens

   Over the years of landscape design and garden writing I’ve frequently found myself circle around to a popular Ralph Waldo Emerson quote, “The earth laughs in flowers”.  I’ve typically connected with this from the personification of flowers, more importantly the personification of nature as a whole.  As I interact on a daily basis with the outside and plants, to understand them as living things with emotion, it encourages me to treat them with a different respect.  To think of our earth celebrating life with such reactions as laughter helps me connect in a new way.  However, it’s likely that Emerson wasn’t simply using personification for purposes of flowery writing.  I would suggest that if I read into this quote as I have, I might only be scratching the surface of his inner thinking.  For Emerson didn’t just mix with notable figures such as Samuel Coleridge, William Wordsworth, and Margaret Fuller but was the mentor for men like Thoreau and Walt Whitman.  And those relationships were strongly based on spiritual and philosophical perspectives of the earth that ultimately helped found the American Transcendentalists.

   The Transcendentalists movement was general pushback to the Unitarian church and the Harvard Divinity School, both the foundation to Emerson’s life.  Their general message was the inherent goodness in both people and nature and that people were at their best when independent and truly self-reliant.  With this the connection to God was in and through the individual rather than a larger church, which at the time seemed to be plagued with struggles and negative teachings.  Emerson and Thoreau brought our country, through their writing, to a stronger connection with nature.  And whether we all completely agree with the entirety of their religious perspectives or not it’s tough to argue about a spiritual connection humanity has to the earth. 

by:  Garth Woodruff - Iris Bed, Berrien Springs MI

by:  Garth Woodruff - Iris Bed, Berrien Springs MI

   So our garden helps connect you to nature through our vegetables.  We all literally consume earthly products from the soil in our own town, nurtured by the same rain and sun that falls on us individually.  And, the baskets are beautiful.  When they arrive Facebook friends blow up the posts with pictures of their homes dawning fresh produce.  It’s exciting.  It’s spiritual.  But that’s not all.  This year as you drive past our little stand out on US. 31 you start to see rows of produce as we expand into this new field.  In many of those same rows are flowers (zinnias, cosmos, sunflowers, marigolds, salvia and more).  Many of you will receive these with your baskets.  Many will stop in and buy them at our stand.  In our first delivery this season large bearded Iris will bless our customers.  However, if Emerson is right we aren’t simply harvesting Iris, we are harvesting also all the positive effects of laughter and delivering flowers to our customers will literally be delivering a smile to a home. - Garth