Sunday Opinion: Research

If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?
Albert Einstein
There are no end of quotes attributed to Albert Einstein that have to do with mystery, intuition, music, knowledge, curiousity, God, and nature.  This is more than I would have expected from a physicist.  But he was much more than brilliant scientist, he was a person of great depth and greater compassion.
The above mentioned quote about research is one of my favorites.  A friend and architect who came to call Saturday with some questions about his landscape made the observation that any conclusion one wishes to believe in regarding growing plants will find some article or another on the internet to support that assumption.  Though he had read countless articles about his issue, there did not seem to be any agreement.  No trend.  No discernible pattern.  
I find nothing unusual in this.  There are countless opinions about every horticultural issue.  Anyone who wishes to find the final and definitive word on how to keep lavandula going in my zone has a rocky road ahead of them.  I feel I can safely say that rocky road will not end at the lavender grail.  It will just end. 
 Also from Albert Einstein, information is not knowledge. I am beginning to understand what this means.  I am a voracious reader.  Books, articles, journals, magazines-multiply all of this by countless numbers when it comes to what is available to read on the internet.  How can I distill all of this information?
How does any gardener make some coherent sense of what opinion is out there?  If you read the blog Garden Rant, or Rochelle Greayer’s Studio G, you will get a different slant than if you read the magazine Garden and Gun.  If you read Scientific American, you will come away with a different point of view than what the RHS journal favors. The AHS bears no remote resemblance in subject,tone of emphasis,  to Garden Design.  If you love reading, and turning the pages of that great publication Garden’s Illustrated, does this mean you should not read Leaf-the digital only, and seasonally available garden magazine by Susan Cohan and Rochelle Greayer?   
Of course not.  Any information that comes your way about design and plants is all to the good.  Add what you like, and shed what doesn’t interest you.  Do your best to be persuaded , should something seem right.  But most of all, do your own research.
Knowledge that is solid has everything to do with experience.  Research.  Never be afraid to try something new.  Never ever be afraid to try something that someone else assures you won’t work.  My big view about gardening?  Lots of things work.  
What works for you is a matter directly related to your research.  Try this.  Try that.  Do what hasn’t been done before.  Change this.  Change that.  If you have a mind to complicate your garden, research what it would mean to make it more simple.  Sometimes going in the opposite direction is a very good idea.   Knowledge of the garden, beautiful gardens, are built on experience. 
Your experience makes sense of a lot of things-no matter what anyone else says.  Trust those results.  What you personally find that works, will make your garden better.  Is there a better gardener for your garden than you?  no.                   


  1. I have been thrilled to find your elegant blog which popped up when I was searching fastigiate trees. I would like to know if subscribing is possible? Thank you

    • Deborah Silver says

      It appears that therre is no way to subscribe-but I will look into seeing if I can add this. Thanks for your interest, Deborah


    Before you leave these portals
    To meet less fortunate mortals
    There’s just one final message
    I would give to you
    You all have learned reliance
    On the sacred teachings of science
    So I hope, through life you never will decline
    In spite of philistine
    To do what all good scientists do

    Make it your motto day and night
    And it will lead you to the light
    The apple on the top of the tree
    Is never too high to achieve
    So take an example from Eve
    Be curious
    Though interfering friends may frown,
    Get furious
    At each attempt to hold you down
    If this advice you’ll only employ
    The future can offer you infinite joy
    And merriment
    And you’ll see

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Michael, loved this youtube tune from Mabel Mercer. Mabel Mercer-I had no clue. Her voice is divine. Thanks Deborah

  3. This song is the essence of so much you write about regarding your approach to the garden…and while experimentation and research are not exactly the same thing…they are kith and kin. Your wonderful post reminded me of this song…and, of course, the incomparable Mabel Mercer. You and Mable have so much in common ! Albert Einstein would have approved of this song.

  4. In closing on this topic…one of my favorite lyrics in all of song references that famous first garden:

    The apple on the top of the tree
    Is never too high to achieve
    So take an example from Eve

    Doesn’t get much better than that Mr. Porter.

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