The Transmission of Knowledge


Dr. Waring, a professor I had in English literature in college, once said he thought the transmission of knowledge from one generation to the next was the most important organizing metaphor for a life properly lived.  I have no memory of what this was in reference to-nor do I know why I do have a strong enough memory of him having said this such that I still remember it 38 years later.  For my 25th birthday, my Mom took me to the National Peony Show at the Kingwood Center in Mansfield, Ohio.  My strongest memory of that trip were how many people-probably then the age I am now-were so pleased that a person as young as myself was interested in peonies.  At my age, I sometimes worry that not enough young people will become interested and active gardeners; what a shame if the beautiful peonies bred over the last 100 years were to no longer be grown.  This is very similar to the numbers of gardeners who are interested in preserving  heirloom varieties of tomatoes, or antique roses, or heirloom apples.  It is a very natural and right thing to transmit the knowledge of the plants, and how they are grown, to the next generation.

I will be the first to admit that I see very few young people interested in what I do and cherish.  I don’t pretend to understand what they are interested in, although I do remember being a completely self absorbed pain to my Mom, when I was that young.   Nonetheless, she managed to get me interested in plants at a very early age-before I got to that “age of attitude”. I had my own private garden at 6, which I kept-and she stayed out of-until I got to be 16, and sociable;  gardening is a fairly solitary pursuit.  No more garden for me until I was out of college.  When I got to be an older young person, something clicked in.  I became obsessed with growing tall bearded iris and peonies.  So every young person I meet, I try encourage them to make something grow-you never know when that might surface in them, long after your effort.


  1. You inspire me to get into gardening. Whenever I look up images and information about plants I always end up back on your blog. You have such a way of creating beautiful and different planters and window boxes that are such an inspiration. I’m trying and only within the past 3 years have I realized all there is to learn in this subject. With this blog you are sharing so much knowledge, thank you!

  2. I love your beautiful presentation of plants however it would be wonderful if you also shared the names of th plants you have planted .

Leave a Comment