“The idea of a flower that never finishes would have struck the Elizabethans as perverse; one of the things they loved most about the rose was the way it held nothing back, the way it bloomed unreservedly and then was spent. But the Victorians bred this sexual rhythm out of the rose, subordinating it to the period’s cult of virginity, as well as its new concepts of economy. From them we’ve inherited a girlish flower, pretty perhaps, but scrubbed to the point of scentlessness, no more alluring or sexually aware than a girl scout.” – Michael Pollan; Second Nature: A Gardeners Education; pp. 95.
Michael Pollan has written a handful of good books and a wealth of articles about gardening, food and farming. His most famous, "Botany of Desire" was written before this book and made into a popular BBC documentary by the same name. He's also released some books since this was published in 1991; the omnivores dilemma is one that I read recently for school. Of all the works I've read by Michael Pollan, this book has been a most personal journey.
“How beautifully they go to their graves…How gently they lay themselves down and turn to mold. They teach us how to die. One wonders if the time will ever come when men, with their boasted faith in immortality, will lie down as gracefully and as ripe.” – Waldon
“It depends on me acting like a sane and civilized human, which is to say, as a creature whose nature it is to remake his surroundings, and whose culture can guide him on questions of aesthetics and ethics. What I’m making here is a middle ground between nature and culture, a place that is at once of nature and unapologetically set against it; what I’m making is a garden.”
“The gardener in nature is that most artificial of creatures, a civilized human being: in control of his appetites, solicitous of nature, self-conscious and responsible, mindful of the past and the future, and at ease with the fundamental ambiquity of his predicament – which is that thought he lives in nature, he is no longer strictly of nature. Further, he knows that neither his success nor his failure in this place is ordained. Nature is apparently indifferent to his fate, and this leaves him free – indeed, obliges him – to make his own way here as best he can.”