Gardening is like a simile. But really it’s a metaphor.

I had a few thoughts today while gardening. One of them was this: It’s dangerous to weed someone else’s garden.

A wise gardener knows this. I met a few of these wise gardeners at the Tanglewood last year while working in the gardens. Sometimes when we didn’t have any work in our own particular sections of the garden, we would help in other sections, usually just with weeding. There were a few gardeners who preferred not to weed a garden if the curator of that section wasn’t there. They wouldn’t want to make a mistake and alter someone else’s garden in a negative way.

But we’re talking about weeding, right? How can someone mess that up? Well, I’ve seen it happen, usually by well-meaning gardeners who are “often wrong but seldom in doubt”.

Weeding can be tricky. It’s difficult to tell some young plants from some weeds. Sometimes we won’t know until it blooms. You can very easily pull out someone’s hard work by mistake. An honest mistake, but still a mistake.

But there’s a bigger reason why weeding someone else’s garden is dangerous. Unless they tell you, you don’t really know what they are trying to grow or how they are trying to grow it. Maybe they want their garden to be a sea of ivy – even if you don’t like ivy. Or maybe they are experimenting with growing edible weeds. (What kind of nut would do that?) Or maybe they prefer leaf litter to your favorite mulch.

Maybe, just maybe, the curator has a different plan for their garden than you do. If it’s not your garden, it’s not your decision.

A wise gardener will remember this.

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