"Gardeners are often good letter writers, and whether they write to describe what's blooming today or to remember a flower from childhood, their letters are efforts to preserve memory. After they have put away tool in the shed, they write letters as a way to go on working in the garden. Because it is impossible to achieve the ind of perfection they dream of, they try to come to terms with their dreams by talking back and forth about their successes and failures. Sometimes they like to have visitors who can walk with them along the paths and admire their handiwork, but at other times, they feel more confident if they can keep visitors at a distance. No matter how lovely the garden looks, as soon as the gardener hears that someone is coming, [the gardener] feels compelled to warn, 'Don't expect much; we haven't had rain.' The perfect flower today can wilt under the eye of tomorrow's visitor. Even a visit to Monet's garden may find us standing in a line in the rain only to notice an unweeded bed. It is far easier to maintain the illusion of a garden in a letter.
Which brings us to the idea of a garden as an illusion, for it is the constant hope of the gardener that enriching this bed and plating that shrub will result in an aesthetic experience that lives up to the dream. So, what is the gardener's dream but a dream of the ideal order in which beauty can be expressed and loss absorbed? Often the struggle between what is hoped for and what is accomplished meets with unexpected disappointments: weeds and varmints are insistent, a flower bed looks poorly. But as the gardener moves along with worried brow, suddenly the smell of a particular flower provides transport to a garden from one's childhood...Memory is awakened, the world made whole, if only for a moment. But in that moment some sort of healing takes place, or so gardeners have believed for centuries."
--Emily Herring Wilson, "Introduction," Two Gardeners: A Friendship in Letters, pp. vii-viii