This is the first of what we hope will be many contributions — poetry, prose or artwork — from readers describing their dreams about gardens, the strange encounters we make in them, plants we never knew we had, plants that may not even exist in the “real” world, and more. We would also welcome garden memories — often also dreamlike. While our gardens sleep, we revive them in our dreams. Send them to, SUBJECT: DREAM GARDENS. We look forward to hearing from you.

By Nan DeGrove

The first day of the new year. My garden is entombed in snow, pond iced over. The bare trees reveal the whereabouts of empty nests, former nurseries of the finches and robins who come to feed. The parsley that I was still picking so recently has given up the ghost. Time has run out even for the thyme, with the single-digit nights. But, while the real-life garden sleeps in its winter dormancy, another garden comes to life — the dream garden.

Gardens are, of course, the most primordial of metaphors. After all, the whole dream of earthly life, in Genesis, begins in a garden. I’ve always had them in my dreams. They are often familiar ones—my own, my mama’s, my grandmama’s, my friends’, yet they are always strange too: some new pathway appears that goes underground, or into a completely different dreamscape. Sometimes flowers bloom out of season, or the seasons occur simultaneously. Animals appear too, often out of context—fish in trees, a horse on the lawn. People come too: familiars, strangers, guides. The dead come back—ghosts in ghostly gardens. The gardens of childhood often seem to call to us in dreams, the original Paradis
from which we have been expelled..

As winter drags on and we wait for the first snowdrop or crocus, It might be interesting to share garden dreams. Here is one of mine from early December: I go out in my garden to look at my roses. But then I’m not in my garden anymore, but back in the yard at home, where I grew up. There are rose bushes all around, a tangle of overgrown canes and drooping blooms. I feel anxious that I’ve forgotten about them. And the fish pond! I realize those fish haven’t been fed in fifty years! I start walking up to the house to find clippers and fish food, but I stop in astonishment when I see on the side of the house, a deep red climbing rose in full bloom against the white brick. I know its name is Don Juan, and I can smell the heady scent.

Don Juan Rose arbot

While dreams have, ever since Freud, and Jung, offered rich material for psychoanalysis, we can also appreciate them just for themselves: messages from the unknown, faithful witnesses to the soul’s experience in the world.