Thoughts from a Casual Gardener

“If thou of fortune be bereft, 
and in thy store there be but left
two loaves, sell one, and with the
dole, buy hyacinths to feed thy soul.”

― John Greenleaf Whittier

I am reminded of this little poem each year at this time, when my garden hyacinths emerge with their delightful color and fragrance. Amazing how the labor of one hour of bulb-planting years ago continues to yield such beauty and joy. 

Of course the notion of seeds-bursting-forth-into-bloom is a well-worn analogy to the work we do here each day. Even small charitable gifts produce amazingly powerful results. Mighty oaks from little acorns and all that.  Perhaps a hackneyed comparison that I don’t need to belabor further…except to reflect upon how perfectly it just fits.

You’re encouraged to hear more, right?!  Okay, here goes:

Apparently even a Casual Gardener like me can reap rewards from a few bulbs tucked into sandy soil. Likewise, at the Foundation we have endowment funds that were started in less-than-ideal conditions (a down market? a struggling rural location?). Consider the rural food pantry fund started in a mountain community in 2000 with a gift of $5,000. Now having grown over 1600% through additional gifts and investment, it annually receives nearly its original investment back in grants to provide food and medicine for low-income clients.

Of course, a more Deliberate Gardener will carefully assemble the tools and materials needed before venturing into the yard. Ditto the nonprofit organization that meticulously assembled a team of dedicated board members to raise a goodly starting sum for its endowment, then ensured that marketing and outreach continued regularly to nurture the fund. It’s not every local arts organization that can boast a robust endowment, but this one can and does.

Finally, the Master Gardener diligently researches appropriate soil and climate conditions and designs an Eden-like landscape to last the generations. Today we are amazed by the forethought of donors whose carefully planned bequests are maturing into significant charitable legacies.

Okay, enough. It’s a dreary rainy day as I write this, and I am grateful for your indulgence with my hyacinth-inspired musings.

And still, just think: tomorrow is another opportunity to plant – and to reap. And to imagine the blooms yet to come!