Gardening at the Green Dragon's Gate

Wendy Johnson

Wisdom Collection

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Every spring I receive my best gardening instruction from walking along the edge of our cultivated farmland. I walk just inside the fields, right up against the nine-foot-high deer fence, running my hand over the woven wire as I go. On this ragged borderline, I am forced to slow down. Sometimes I walk so slowly I can close my eyes. I smell the wild pennyroyal mint rising out of the wet eye sockets of small mountain springs just outside the fence. On the rim of these springs grows fetid adder’s tongue, Scoliopus bigelovi, thrusting its ill-scented flowers into the new spring air. The stench of rotting meat hovers over the strange, brown-speckled blooms as they uncurl, luring the flies that will pollinate them. I can feel the slow water of the pennyroyal springs seep out of the hillside and saturate the farm soil on my side of the fence. A good place for summer leeks, I tell myself. The mountain will keep the land wet well past June.

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