Earth Day Rant

I was working in the zen garden, contemplating life, the universe and everything when the thought of Earth Day encroached into the peaceful thoughts. The boxwood hedge on one side of the gravel filled box had just been trimmed and the bits were being carefully removed from the pea gravel, along with a few wind planted weeds. It was slow, methodical work, the perfect vibe for the path to enlightenment. I began to think about The Earth and the meaning of the day set aside for it. One day. (Photo: LTB, son of offspring Semi, after he added the stone bridge in the zen garden, March 2010. He looked at the zen garden and the first thing out of his mouth was that it needed a bridge. How did he know that is a requirement for proper zen?)

I need to take a small detour from zen for a rant, please excuse this break with the calming flow. (LTB having a moment of zen with Kitty by the pond, August 2010, we are traveling backwards in time.)

Now is the season that television ads are being aimed at what the advertisers think are gardeners. They ignore us for most of the year, which is fine by me since it is nearly all chemical companies that have the funds for such expensive adverts, anyway. Gardening through chemicals is their scheme, including but not limited to preventing weeds in the flower beds.
(Photo of LTB contemplating the pond, April 2009.) They show two shots, one of a flower using the weed preventer and one without. Notice that the one with the preventer still has weeds, BTW. This rankles my last nerve. Why waste money on this when all one has to do is reach over, grasp the offending plant and pull it out of the ground? The granules also contain chemical fertilizer, not necessary either, in my gardening world. If you pull the weeds before they flower and seeds have formed, they can be allowed to compost right there, feeding the soil. It’s free, it is good exercize, it lets the gardener get closer to the plants to really understand their needs and just to say hello. In other words, it is good for the Earth. Or in some circles, just saying, those weeds might be more beneficial than the store bought plant, but we won’t go there, today.

Hand weeding, or even using tools is a better prescription for being one with the planet than spraying and sprinkling stuff left over from refining petroleum. Don’t get me started on that one, please. So many of the flowers here are self sown volunteers that would not exist if a chemical that prevents germination were used, even if it was made from corn gluten. That sea of Nigella, gone with the wind. The Dance of the Dianthus, would be only the lonely. Forget me nots would be forgottens. The Viola Beauty Pageant could not be held, for the contestants are all spontaneous risers from the gravel paths of the knot garden. There would only be the original three Hellebores instead of hundreds. We could go on, but I believe you have gotten the gist of the rant. We have a long way to go to enlightenment. ~ I apologize for this tirade, but felt it necessary and pertinent to get that off my chest. (Photo of LTB contemplating the pond, April 2008.)

Back to zenning. To me, searching for meaning involves slowing down, taking time to notice one’s surroundings and appreciate the beauty that exists in every living thing. It means looking through the eyes of a child, for it is they who come into this world understanding the incredible, amazing magic that is all around us. (Photo of LTB sitting on the little bench on the front stoop, October, 2007.)

We need to protect and champion our environment, not for ourselves, but for those who will come after us, generation after generation. We don’t want them to suffer from our lack of stewardship. (Photo of LTB watering the muhly bed, with supervision, September, 2007.)

On this Earth Day 2011, let us be mindful of the soil beneath our feet and the water that runs through it. Let us think about what we are adding to it. (Photo taken recently with my phone. LTB, my how he has grown!, is studying the algae bloom in the pond.)


LTB: GG, you have to buy this flower.
Me: Why is that?
LTB: Because it has a butterfly in the center. Don’t you see it?
Me: Yes, I do now.



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31 Responses to Earth Day Rant

  1. LTB is so adorable! I just love that photo of him watering the plants in his diapers (with help). I completely agree with your “rant”. I find all those commercials laughable. One big box store commercial now playing shows someone planting a tree in a hole that is barely the size of the root ball. And, the weed and feed commercials make me crazy too! Happy Earth Day!

    Thanks so much Karin! I normally do not rant like this, but needed to put in writing how I feel about what is seen on TV as something necessary to maintaining a garden, (and lawn). We are not the demographic for these companies, apparently and have they never heard of compost?. Happy Earth Day! πŸ™‚

  2. Layanee says:

    Don’t you love that children see the world with innocent eyes. The butterfly in the center of the flower is amazing. I had not noticed it before. Thanks for the music to start the day with my little Hailey.

    It keeps us young, doesn’t it Layanee, the interaction with the little ones? The butterfly had to be pointed out to me, through the tears of happiness! Enjoy your day with Hailey, and sing loud and long. πŸ™‚

  3. I have seen the commercials of which you spoke also and just shake my head. You are right, the marketing department has targeted incorrectly, but what would they sell? Chemicals are big, profitable business. And with so many getting into gardening having little time, they are a maintenance godsend according to the advertising copy. I look at it too, so many are getting involved with open gardens and garden walks and a quick fix is a way to a ‘presentable’ yard. Hard to say, but this is a battle that will never be won on any measurable scale. One informed garden at a time is a start. I only ever used chemicals one time on my yard, (for testing for my clients), and was pretty amazed at the instant result of green, weed free grass . But with that, so came the yard devoid of critters. Not a choice I was wiling to make.

    Hi Donna, thanks for adding in here. It does seem an uphill battle with those companies, they have oodles of cash in a struggling economy. These are the same companies that will show, later in the season, ways to completely rid our yards of those *bad bugs* flying around. Sigh. Education is the only way out of this hole. One gardener at a time…

  4. Thank you Frances. We need to leave a better place for LTB and his offspring. I am a believer in the Bend and Pull method of weeding. I don’t find weeding to be work, I find it to be zenful. And often, I enjoy the happy combinations the Earth blows in. Happy Earth Day, dear Frances

    Happy Earth Day, Helen. Weeding is the best mind clearing activitiy, also allowing any hostile feelings to be taken out on those stubborn weeds. So much of my garden is self sown volunteers, those products would cost a whole lot more in plant purchases to fill the spaces taken up by free serendipity. It is our job to teach our children well… πŸ™‚

  5. lindA says:

    Oh my, what a precious statement made by LTB. I never would have noticed the butterfly.

    Thanks Linda. I did not see the butterfly before being enlightened by our little zen master. πŸ™‚

  6. Oh, yes, I so agree. We are merely stewards of the land, holding it in trust for our children and their children and so on. Better living through chemicals is a fraud. Your guiding influence is paying off for your grandson, but it’s wonderful that you learn nearly as much from him as he does from you.

    Thanks MMD, and Happy Earth Day to you. Your post was lovely, full of hope for the future! I think of that motto often, and grumble, better living my big toe! At what price? LTB is full of knowledge, I am so lucky to be able to learn from him. πŸ™‚

  7. Wendy says:

    Your post was the first thing I read this morning and I’m so glad it was. It was beautiful and very well said. A nice reminder of what gardening and loving the Earth is all about.

    I loved the butterfly comment from LTB, children notice the most amazing things…

    Beautiful choice of music too!!

    Thank you for starting my day on a sweet note. πŸ™‚ Happy Earth Day!

    Oh Wendy, what a lovely and sweet comment, thank you! Through the eyes of a child… πŸ™‚

  8. Rose says:

    So beautifully said, Frances! LTB’s vision of the butterfly in the viola says it all–we want to protect Mother Earth not so much for ourselves as for our children and the generations to come. Without the beauty of nature–especially the wild part, not the sterile green lawns of suburbia–I fear they may not be able to feel the magic or experience that Zen feeling.
    Love all the photos of LTB–he is really growing up!

    Thanks Rose. It was funning going through the older posts to assemble the photos of LTB as seen through blog posts. He is all legs at the moment. We live in an area with lots of wide open, *unimproved* spaces. May it remain so, or be managed well, for the sake of the future generations of humans and wildlife. Education is the key.

  9. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    It is wonderful to see your Grandson in the garden Frances. This is a major thing we can do for the earth. Let the children roam, wonder and enjoy what we have to offer. It gives them appreciation of nature and hopefully the idea of wanting nature around forever. Happy Earth Day.

    Happy Earth Day to you, Lisa. We try and plant the seed of proper care of the environment without being too preachy to him. Hopefully he will pass it along to classmates, etc. We can change the thinking, through educating the next generation well. πŸ™‚

  10. Eileen says:

    Great post Frances! It should always be about the children, children’s gardens are finally getting attention in a school setting.

    I worked on one for ten years and you wouldn’t believe the reasons for not using nature as a teacher, no room, would look inappropriate out in front, other teachers would not want to participate, no one to take care of it during the summer and on and on.

    I guess this was my rant for the day.


    Thanks Eileen. Rant away, my friend, we must make our voices be heard! Things will only change, without the better living through chemistry motto clanging in our ears, if we be unrelenting in the message. It is of vital importance to do so. I am glad the school garden is getting attention! Well done! πŸ™‚

  11. Diana says:

    The greatest tribute to the earth is your sharing your garden and love for the earth with your grandson. What a treasure you have given him — one that will continue to unfold for him to share with his grandchildren some day. Happy Earth Day.

    Thank you so much, Diana, such kind words. Our greatest joy comes from teaching our kids, and now their kids about what is important, feeding them on our dreams…. Happy Earth Day to you! πŸ™‚

  12. commonweeder says:

    An eloquent rant against companies that make those unnecessary feed and weed products – and then you calm us down as we go out to our gardens, some of us with a grandchild in tow, to celebrate this Earth Day. It is hard to look at our children and grandchildren and not want to make the world safe and beautiful for them.

    Thank you, Pat. Unncessary at the least, and a mindset that needs to be changed. My poor husband has to listen to me everytime these commercials come on. HA You are so right about wanting a better place for our kids and theirs. Happy Earth Day! πŸ™‚

  13. Leslie says:

    Wonderfully said Frances. And I will never look at pansies the same thanks to LTB. Happy Earth Day!

    Thanks Leslie. I will also be checking the sweet flower faces from now on. Happy Earth Day to you! πŸ™‚

  14. Liz says:


    Nice rant, I agree with you completely. I cannot understand people that pour chemicals on their gardens, it just doesn’t make any sense to me. Instead of fighting against nature, how about working with it instead?

    I’ve never used chemicals to weed, I do it the old way – digging them out. As a result most don’t come back and I only have to weed a few times a year, that to me is no hardship.

    Hi Liz, thanks for joining in. Weeding is theraputic, good for a troubled mind along with good for the garden. We can never ever get all the weeds, but just chip away at them. My tolerance for weeds has changed drastically with age, too. A good thing. πŸ™‚

  15. More rant! If I see one more miracle grow potting soil or lawn service ad I willWILLwIlL go insane! And already someone is mowing their lawn every day, grass isn’t even greened up yet. Constant hum and vibration of someone’s freaking lawnmower. This is why I no garden in winter–it’s quiet out there.

    Poor Benjamin! Winter is a good time to garden here, too. On the weekends here, the drone of the lawnmowers can be heard. We usualy go visit LTB then. πŸ™‚

  16. Steve says:

    On the rant: I’m glad you want to be outspoken and rant a little bit. This needs to be said pretty much every day. We are quietly poisoning ourselves in our willful ignorance and fear. It’s getting serious – not that it never was.

    On that gorgeous boy: The preciousness of our world needs to go to him as intact as possible. The children deserve out best efforts at stewardship of this planet and nothing less. What a cutie, Frances and, yeah, he’s growing up fast!.

    Steve, more than all the trial, tribulations and troubles of our times, nothing worries me more than the poisoning of the earth that is going on, welcomed by most because it supplies jobs. Good grief. As for our little guy, he grows more everytime I see him, which is usually weekly. We must fix this, for him and the future.

  17. Ginger Goolsby says:

    Frances, thank you for your rant; I totally agree with you. I know we can’t change the world, but we can change our own little corners of the world and perhaps, in doing so, influence others around us to also make changes in their small spaces. Happy Earth Day from another ranter in East Tennessee. Ginger

    Happy Earth Day fellow east TNer, Ginger! We will do what we can to protect this beautiful spot, and try to influence those around us. πŸ™‚

  18. Nicole says:

    I can relate to your rant, and I have no idea why people are so happy to pour all sort of highly toxic chemicals in their yards where they live and their children and pets play! In my native Trinidad, the chicken farms dump the chicken manure into the seas, causing pollution, instead of bagging and selling it, while the farmers buy environmentally damaging imported chemical fertilizers-go figure.

    Thanks for adding to the conversation, Nicole. I believe that is how it happened here as well. Farmers used to use the manure from the animals after it was well composted, then were talked into using synthetic fertilizer mid 20th century as a way to use the by products from the petroleum industry. We need to get back to the old ways of the garden. I hope your country gets leaders that can see that as well. It is happening way too slowly here.

  19. Robin says:

    I love your rant, Frances. What better way to illustrate the dangers of chemicals than by juxtaposing the concept with your handsome grandson?

    (BTW, I also love the zen garden. I may have to mimic that idea.)

    Thanks Robin. I do like showing off my handsome grandsons, on occasion. Mimic all you want, that is why we blog, to inspire others. πŸ™‚

  20. joey says:

    My heart is with you and your lovely/heartfelt post, dear Frances.

    “The earth does not belong to us. We belong to the earth … Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons and daughters of the earth.” (Chief Seattle)

    Thank you for visiting, dear Joey, and thank you for that most apt and moving quote. What we do matters. Alot.

  21. Good rant Frances and happy Earth Day to you. Teach Your Children hear hear!!

    Thanks Janet. Happy Earth Day back at ya, while we sing together….teach…:-)

  22. You are so right in everything you said especially about the use of pre-emergents and the benefit of self-sowing plants. That’s how most of my garden got there.

    Thanks Carolyn. I shouldn’t rave on about it here, like I do at home, yelling at the television, but decided to get those feelings out in the open. The self sowing of plants is nothing short of a miracle.

  23. semi says:

    Oh LTB makes me so proud! We watched and photographed butterflies in the garden last weekend, one even let him touch it! He was so pleased. Happy Earth Day! Love Semi

    Dear Semi, that is a heart warming story, I know how he loves all creatures. You have done well teaching this child. And I did well with you. Happy Earth Day!

  24. Alistair says:

    If it was a rant, it was an enjoyable one. I always tell people I enjoy weeding, they just look at me as though I were crazy. Mind you when it comes to the driveway, yes the spray is handy then. The time travel with your grandson was indeed beautiful.

    Thanks Alistair. I try to keep things upbeat here on the blog, but slip sometimes. I agree, there are spots here that are a real trial to keep the weeds out. I am still hunting for the horticultural vinegar to try on one particularly stubborn gravel path where the stones have washed away. What we need is more gravel. I am glad you enjoyed seeing LTB growing up in the garden. It is such a joy to have him here on occasion. πŸ™‚

  25. Shyrlene says:

    Frances – I loved your post and included a link to it on my “Earth Day” post yesterday.

    Hi Shyrlene, thank you for the linkage! I will zip over to read your post! πŸ™‚

  26. Brilliant rant, beautifully balanced by the lovely grandson, perfectly finished by one of my favourite songs.

    Thanks, Janet, that was my objective. It is a favorite song of mine, as well. πŸ™‚

  27. Marguerite says:

    Frances, ranting can be beneficial sometimes, just letting loose and getting those things off your chest. I was surprised recently (although why I don’t know, I should realize by now) walking into a box store and going to their garden department. There was nothing there to garden with. It was all lawn mowers and grass seed, fertilizers and weeding chemicals. It’s hard to understand but some people actually think that is gardening. Happy Earth Day to you and bless you for teaching your grandson how to appreciate a real garden.

    Thanks, Marguerite. I know how you feel when visiting some stores, not only are there no real gardening supplies, the stench of the chemicals to apply to our precious earth is sickening, literally. Happy Earth Day to you, and thank you for those kind words. I consider it my job to teach my own kids, now grown, and their kids. Perhaps I will live long enough to teach one more generation after that. πŸ™‚

  28. It must be very special for LTB to spend time in your garden while growing up. The photos you take of him there provide a sort of meditation in that through them we are drawn to notice the stillness.


    Thanks so much for that thoughtful comment, Esther. Gathering the photos, all from previous posts except the last two brought home to me how he sees this garden. It makes me tear up with joy, for he teaches me more than I teach him. πŸ™‚

  29. Kathy says:



  30. Ewa says:

    Oh Frances, did I tell you that your blog is wonderful? I came over yesterday and couldn’t stop reading – I thinnk I’ve read 100 posts or so. Love each of them. Thank You! and Happy Easter!

    Dear Ewa, thank you!!! I could tell someone was looking at so many posts by studying the statistics page. I had no idea it was you, my dear friend! Happy Easter to you as well. πŸ™‚
    xxxooo, like you taught us,

  31. kanak7 says:

    Hi Frances! I’m here after a long while…glad you took off like that! Loved your images and your words! Your grandson is adorable! I’ll always remember his comment whenever I see a pansy.


    Hi Kanak, thanks, so nice to see you here! I am glad you will look at the pansies differently, as will I. πŸ™‚

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