You don’t have to hike into the wilderness to experience nature. Just garden.


Nick Kristoff makes lots of good points about the importance of experiencing nature but he's clearly not a gardener.  We know this because he writes about nature as something you visit on a yearly backpacking trip. Here's his column in today's NY Times, and there's a link at the bottom to comment about it on his blog.  I did, in a potentially embarrassing bout of gushiness over gardening.

Photo of nature in his city front yard by Felder Rushing.


  1. Good call, gardening is a very quick way to experience nature. However, I see his larger point too, many kids grow up without ever being in awe of entering the dark forests, seeing the peaks of great mountains, and getting wet fording a stream.

    And I also see the lament of many commenters, that with hordes of day trippers descending on parks without respect for the wildlife and fragile habitats we would soon have less and less such areas to explore. Sad dilemma of humanity.

  2. Anything that can connect people to the natural cycles is necessary and important, be it gardening or hiking. Thanks for highlighting the article.

  3. kristoff grew up on a farm- i think he knows a bit about gardening. there is nature and there is NATURE, backpacking is a great way to completely immerse yourself. very different from gardening.

  4. Although I enjoy the occasional excursion into “nature” in a far away place, I think it’s important to be connected with nature in my own backyard, and I work helping people connect with nature at a very local level. People are amazed at the “nature” they see when they begin to garden with wildlife in mind. Thank you for sharing this article.

  5. Thank you, Susan, for sharing the article. I think your comment was appropriate, since so many folks with children cannot afford excursions into wildness. Gardening is an intimate, emotional experience. As an example, when you find a hooded oriole, while you napped, has strangled itself in the netting you used to protect the tomatoes from beak damage.

  6. You are right, Susan.
    one does not replace the other.
    Gardening is a conceit…it is nature edited. Tamed. Much of it killed off in the pursuit of the good, better and best as judged by Us.

    Getting out into some ungardened nature is a dramatically different–and in my opinion–irreplaceable education. As valuable as gardening is–and I agree that it is essential on many levels to any culture– it cannot replace the education that is available “out there.”

    We need both. And when we gardeners ignore wilderness, we are that much poorer for our ignorance.

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