Plato in the Peonies

The Beauty of a Spent Peony

Gardening is the handiest excuse for being a philosopher. Nobody guesses, nobody accuses, nobody knows, but there you are, Plato in the peonies, Socrates force-growing his own hemlock. A man toting a sack of blood manure across his lawn is kin to Atlas letting the world spin easy on his shoulder.

― Ray Bradbury, Dandelion Wine

Gardening IS a handy excuse for being a philosopher. It teaches life lessons in so many ways.

There are successes and failures. Many, many failures sometimes. So many that sometimes we wonder whether or not to even continue.

A gardener has to experiment, research, and keep notes.

Patience is paramount. Seeds and plants take time to grow, soil takes time and effort to amend, and constant pruning is a necessity.

Things can go wrong beyond your control, from weather to bugs to dogs digging in the dirt. And they’re not always even your dogs!

Some challenges can be overcome, others cannot or are not worth the price to pay.

But a gardener grows, learns, and moves on – the same as in life. To not do so invites stagnation, misery for you and worse, misery for everyone around you. We have to accommodate change, whether we want to or not.

So gardening, like many other things in life, makes us all into philosophers. The lessons learned become lessons for the rest of our life.

The question is – are we paying attention to it?

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Life Lessons Nature

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I am a backyard adventurer, philosopher and observer, recording my life in journals and photographs. Visit my blog at

4 Comments Leave a comment

  1. I’d go even further and say that Nature in general is a wonderful teacher, even when you don’t have a garden. How do animals cope with loss, loneliness, disease and suffering? A tree falls down in the storm, and from its roots more branches appear and it becomes a haven for insects, small mammals and birds: even when it’s down, it is full of life and reaching for the sky.

  2. My garden is full of peonies, anxiously waiting for them to bloom. One upside to living in Iowa, peonies thrive here : )

    Thanks Kath

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