Books and Gardening: A Metaphor for Life

Submitted by Sara Foster, Senior Lecturer (English for Academic Purposes) on Wed, 10/04/2023 - 11:16

I dropped a book in the bath a few months ago, and when I fished it out and took it downstairs to dry in the sun, my husband asked if I had been reading in the rain. 

It gave me an idea – I thought that I could combine my two favourite things – reading and gardening – into a single commodity. 

I took that now sorry looking novel (Stendhal’s ‘Charterhouse of Parma’) and between the pages, I sprinkled poppy seeds from some old pods I had been drying. I took it into the garden and put it down and left it. The rain and the sun came and went, and I noticed wild poppies had sprung up around it, their haired stalks impervious to the ravenous slugs and snails that live there normally.  

Then I tried the same thing with sweet pea seeds. The pages of my old books, the ones with no hope left in their spines but that had given so much from their pages, now giving back to the earth in a tumble of colour and fragrance. I added another book, then another until I had an area that looked like a scout camp. As the pages weathered, the green shoots of hope remained.

It is ultimately sustainable; the book becomes an incubator, a supporter, a home, a mulch and finally disappears back into the earth – a metaphor for life. 

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