22 wittiest anecdotes about gardening

Two women laughing in a woodland garden

There’s nothing better for the mood than a spot of gardening. Is that really true, though? What with pests, weeds and aching knees, there’s a streak of black humour in the outdoor art. Here’s a selection of wise, witty and pithy words from people with mud under their nails…
“I consider every plant hardy until I have killed it myself.”

Politician and botanist Sir Peter Smithers

“A weed is a plant that has mastered every survival skill except for learning how to grow in rows.”

American columnist Doug Larson

“If you have a garden and a library you have everything you need.”

Roman philosopher Cicero

“I plant daffodil bulbs about eight inches deep. I don’t use a ruler. As a married woman, I know perfectly well what six or eight inches looks like. This mental measurement makes planting time much more interesting than it might be otherwise.”

American TV gardener Cassandra Danz

“You know you’re a hardcore gardener if you deadhead flowers in other people’s gardens.”

Writer Sue Careless

“The great French Marshal Lyautey once asked his gardener to plant a tree. The gardener objected that the tree would not reach maturity for a hundred years. The marshall replied, ‘In that case there is no time to lose. Plant this afternoon!’”

John F Kennedy

Rudyard Kipling in a garden smoking a cigarette
Keen gardener: Rudyard Kipling, writer, and enemy of all weeds CREDIT: CORBIS

“Plant and your spouse plants with you. Weed and you weed alone.”

Commonly attributed (somewhat unconvincingly) to philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau – who did write extensively about gardening

“Hand-weeding is not the terrible drudgery that it is often made out to be. Some people find in it a kind of soothing monotony. It leaves their minds free to perfect the brilliant repartee with which they should have countered a relative’s latest example of unreasonableness.”

Christopher Lloyd

“Our England is a garden, and such gardens are not made
By singing, ‘Oh how beautiful!’ and sitting in the shade
While better men than we go out, and start their working lives
By grubbing weeds from garden paths with broken dinner knives.”

Rudyard Kipling

“The soul cannot thrive in the absence of a garden. If you do not want paradise, you are not human. And if you are not human, you do not have a soul.”

Thomas More

“Nature abhors a garden.”

Journalist Michael Pollan

“He made two or three peculiar observations; as when shewn the botanical garden: ‘Is not every garden a botanical garden?’”

James Boswell, on Samuel Johnson

“Gardening requires lots of water – most of it in the form of perspiration.”

Cartoonist Lou Erickson

“What a man needs in gardening is a cast-iron back, with a hinge in it.”

American essayist Charles Dudley Warner

“There can be no other occupation like gardening in which, if you were to creep up behind someone at their work, you would find them smiling.”

Horticulturalist Mirabel Osler

“Weather means more when you have a garden. There is nothing like listening to a shower and thinking how it is sinking in around your green beans.”

Marcelene Cox

Poet Robert Frost standing in a wheat field
‘With care my flowers tend’: poet Robert Frost CREDIT: TIME LIFE PICTURES

“The best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it. If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant.”

Gardener’s adage, author unknown

“Early to bed, early to rise
Work like hell and fertilise.”

American gardener Emily Whaley


“We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.”

Abraham Lincoln

“A weed is a plant that is not only in the wrong place, but intends to stay.”

Ecologist Sara Stein

“God made a beauteous garden
With lovely flowers strown
But one straight, narrow pathway
That was not overgrown.
And to this beauteous garden
He brought mankind to live
And said, ‘To you, my children
These lovely flowers I give.
Prune ye my vines and fig trees,
With care my flowers tend
But keep the pathway open;
Your home is at the end.”

Robert Frost

“Death has come for me many times but finds me always in my lovely garden and leaves me there, I think, as an excuse to return.”

American gardener Robert Brault


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