Ed note: Flower Farm manager and poet Wesley Sexton leaves us to head to grad school this week. But before he leaves, he reflects on the connection between farming and poetry.
Earlier this year, we transformed a vacant, gravelly lot into a production hub for our favorite annual and perennial flowers. And now, every two weeks, we harvest the best of our “produce,” arrange it into beautiful bouquets, and deliver it to the doorsteps of our eager Flower Farm subscribers.
Gardens Are Poems
As the manger for the farm, I have become interested in how the word “garden” is different from the word “farm.” As gardeners, our goal is usually an aesthetic one. Of course we want our plants to be as healthy as possible, but whether designing meditative sitting gardens or pruning a shrub to fit beneath a windowsill, our goal as gardeners is to balance plant health with aesthetics in order to create the most attractive garden possible in the space provided.
We are like poets writing poems. Each garden is unique just like each poem is unique, because the circumstances and parameters inspiring art are always changing. It is impossible to engage with the world the same way twice.
Farms Are Publishing Houses
As a farmer, however, my goals have more to do with consistent production than with creating a unique garden experience. For example, the Spotts Flower Farm looks like many other farms in some structural ways. We have planted in rows to water and weed more easily; we plant like plants together, to make harvesting easier; and we bolster the plants with things like drip irrigation and supportive netting. At the flower farm, the cultivation process trades in some aesthetics for consistency of production.
If the garden is the place for creating poetry—for engaging with a specific space and creating a specific visual experience—then the flower farm is a publishing house. The farm is a place for consistently producing individual aesthetic experiences and getting them out to the world. At the flower farm, we have collected all the best poems we’ve written in our customers’ gardens over the years, and our goal is to share them.
The Spotts Flower Farm allows me to help publish a collection of years of artistic experimentation at Spotts Garden Service. Each bouquet is a poem written in one of our unique gardens, and the Flower Farm is the place where that poetry gets shared.