‘What did Thought do?'
‘Stuck a feather in the ground and thought it would grow a hen.'
Rod by rod we pegged the drill for sweetpea with light brittle sticks,
twiggy and unlikely in fresh mould, and stalk by stalk we snipped
the coming blooms.
Seamus Heaney, Sweetpea.1
The labour, practice and pleasure of cultivating sweetpeas anchors Seamus Heaney's arresting poem on our relationships with the natural world. Juxtaposing thought with action this verse spotlights the act of training this plant in drills dug by gardeners into the soil, with blooms trained, supported and pruned along vertical woody twigs. Growing plants and creating a garden is not just, or perhaps even primarily, an intellectual activity, it is more often a set of procedures and ...