Q&A with Nina Pick, author of “The Gardener Says”

By Nikki Tilley | March 24, 2019
by Nikki Tilley
March 24, 2019

Nina Pick is a poet, editor, and teacher who is passionate about exploring questions at the intersection of spiritual ecology and depth psychology. She is the author of two chapbooks, À Luz and Leaving the Lecture on Dance, and has been an editor at the Inverness Almanac, the New Farmers Almanac, and Princeton Architectural Press. She also conducts oral histories on Yiddish and Jewish identity. She lives outside New York City with  a growing family of potted ferns, her partner, and a cat.  In her latest book, The Gardener Says: Quotes, Quips and Words of Wisdom“, Pick offers quotes that highlight both the joys and challenges of gardening. Read on to learn more and enter below to win one of two copies from Princeton Architectural Press!

What was the inspiration behind this book?

Jan Cigliano Hartman, an acquisitions editor at Princeton Architectural Press, came up with the idea for this book to be the next title in the Words of Wisdom series. I was really enthusiastic about the idea, and she passed the project on to me. As a writer and editor, I love working on books on spirituality and ecology, projects that nurture our intimacy with the natural world, so this book felt very meaningful to me. I deeply believe that gardening is a radical action with profound social, spiritual, and ecological implications, and I wanted to bring forth this aspect in the book. 

Do you have a gardening quote from the book that’s a particular favorite? Why?

I love Wendy Johnson’s “Learn gardening from the wilderness outside the garden gate.” Wendy Johnson is a meditator and gardener at the Green Gulch Zen Center and author of Gardening at the Dragon’s Gate. She highlights gardening as a contemplative practice and a path to connection with the more-than-human world. I also really liked all the quotes that illuminate the creative, erotic, and ecstatic energy of the garden, for example Rumi’s “Don’t think the garden loses its ecstasy in winter. It’s quiet, but the roots are down there riotous” and Thoreau’s “Methinks my own soul must be a bright invisible green.”  

You mention your mother’s garden as being a favorite of yours. Is this where you developed a love of gardening?

Yes, absolutely! I’m fairly new to gardening and was inspired to start by my mother’s beautiful garden and her relationship with it. I love being in her garden and talking with her about her work in it. I also really love seed catalogues. Pure poetry! 

What plants do you typically grow in your garden and is there a quote that would best describe it?

I really like growing herbs, as well as beautiful plants that are also good to eat, such as nasturtium (I love red, orange, and yellow in a garden!). I love being able to run outside for fresh herbs in the middle of cooking or to make a cup of tea! 

What advice would you give to others in creating a garden of their own?

Start where you’re at. Even if you’re tending closely to a houseplant or a tiny patch of soil, you can forge a deep relationship with it. You don’t have to have a lot of land to experience the transformative energy of the plant-human relationship. I have a family friend who is in a wheelchair in a nursing home. He was very depressed, but then he started asking for plants. Now his room is full of them, and he has a personal relationship with each one. Taking care of the plants has nurtured his own healing and helped bring him back into the stream of life. I’m sure the plants have experienced the blessings of this relationship as well! 

Do you have your own garden quote or words of wisdom for anyone with an interest in gardening?

My wisdom would be that we can engage in gardening as a mindfulness practice to nurture our soul connection with plant and animals, to learn a careful tending to the world, and to increase our capacity to be in loving relationship with all life. Gardening has ramifications for personal, social, and ecological transformation and healing that extend far beyond the garden fence! 

Enter to win one of two copies of The Gardener Says!

To enter, simply leave a comment on this blog post by midnight on Sunday, March 31, 2019 (be sure to provide a valid e-mail address) in answer to the following question:

What is one of your favorite gardening quotes?

Be sure to include a valid e-mail address. The winner will be drawn at random from all qualified entrants, and notified via e-mail. (See rules for more information.)

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  • Mary Louise Hagler
    Comment added May 29, 2021Reply

    What you water will grow.
    Mary Louise Hagler

  • Paula Robinson
    Comment added March 28, 2019Reply

    A friend is one who overlooks your broken fence and admires the flowers in your garden.

  • Pam Battey
    Comment added March 28, 2019Reply

    Grateful that Gardening at the Dragon’s Gate was my first gardening book. It’s wisdoms still run through my mind this many years later. I look forward to the wisdom offered in your new book.

  • Kathleen
    Comment added March 27, 2019Reply

    If you have a garden & a library you have everything you need.


  • Leslie A Walkowiak
    Comment added March 27, 2019Reply

    "If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need." Cicero

  • Gaye McGill
    Comment added March 26, 2019Reply

    A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in. – Greek proverb

  • Kathleen Fosha
    Comment added March 25, 2019Reply

    A single act of kindness
    Throws out roots
    In all directions
    And the roots spring
    Up and make new trees

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