A garden’s beauty and serenity may seem like quiet ideals, but the work of cultivating them takes disquieting birth pains and messy perseverance. Such constant work both fulfills and showcases a garden’s twin purposes of delight and provision. Those who tend the garden and those who stumble into it share at least these enjoyments in common.
Points I was reminded of during a recent visit to the Albin Polasek Museum and Sculpture Garden in Winter Park, Florida. On the Tuesday morning I visited, volunteer gardeners far outnumbered guests. As I leisurely strolled and snapped photographs of the sculpture garden, volunteers busily pulled out weeds, planted autumn crops, and constructed new flower beds. I admired the statues set in flowering scenes. They created those seasonal backgrounds. I was solitary. Their companionable chatter hummed along the shaded paths.
Many worked, so it would be tempting to say, “while few enjoyed.” But that would be to misunderstand the nature of love. For the gardeners, work expresses love; its costs make its rewards more precious. Their sweat and time and talent are a rich man’s largesse blessing many. My $5 admission charge may be a poor man’s alms, but I gave it happily to share the beauty and enjoy the inspiration.
These thoughts breezed through my head and rustled my hair as I sat in the garden created by an artist who sculpted as his work and worship. His artful garden is now tended by hundreds of caretakers who continue to nurture its beauty. I simply wondered in but found myself echoing the artist’s sentiment. A hymn that was surely sung in the Garden at the beginning of time.