Cogitating is one of my husband’s favorite words and it’s no wonder, Tim is a man who likes to think about things. In fact, he values thinking about stuff for a long time; weighing pros and cons and examining issues and possibilities from every angle.
By and large, I’m not a cogitator. I’m a doer. And when I’m not doing, I’m procrastinating. I like to believe I’m quick-witted, and smart about some things, but in general I’m emotional and intuitive rather than thoughtful.
This past summer I took a photograph of a man cogitating. The image, made at RHS Garden Harlow Carr in Yorkshire, England, shows a man dressed for brisk weather, even in July, sitting on a semicircular bench situated within the long border.
I know the man was cogitating because I watched him pace the dimension of the bench before sitting down, and after I took the photograph, I saw him motion his wife over to examine the seat too. He was cogitating, in the full sense of the word—pondering, even musing—what a similar bench would be like in his own garden.
When I look at this picture now, so many months later, I feel the joy of that day. I experience again the pure glee that so many gardeners visiting Harlow Carr, be they from Yorkshire or South Carolina, were engaged in a day of discovery.
I wonder, though, if the man noted the window-like paving that grounded the bench and its clever suggestion that a seat within a border creates a unique view. And if, when he built his bench at home, he thought to place an enchanting, peek-a-boo screen of grasses to flutter in the breeze like curtains?
Recently, I told my readers in The Greenville News that I would cogitate about a new planting scheme for the large, half-moon-shaped bed that comprises the view from my home’s front windows. I want to transform this space to add more color, not only with blooms, but also with foliage, and I know this action merits thoughtful consideration.
But perusing photos for inspiration, searching shade-gardening books for plant options, weighing pros and cons and examining issues and possibilities from every angle doesn’t feel like progress to me; it feels like procrastination.
What I really want to do is to commence digging, prying out old Clarissa hollies and the mishmash, dog’s dish of evergreen azaleas. My fingers itch to transplant the hellebores from their hideout under the dogwood tree to the foot of the bed where eyes can more easily find their luminous flowers. I’m eager to spread a life-sustaining layer of compost and, most of all, I’m desperate for the streak of genius that will produce the perfect plan in five-minutes flat. Or less.
Problem is, can I do it? Can I rely solely on heart and intuition? Or by embracing my own method, will I end up with just an ordinary space, rather than a unique and magical garden to fill my window on the world?