National Geographic: The Savage Garden


Sir Francis Bacon wrote,

God Almighty first planted a garden,

and indeed it is

the purest of human pleasures.

"Cultivators of the earth,"

according to Thomas Jefferson,

are the most valuable citizens.

They are the most vigorous,

the most independent,

the most virtuous.

Or, as my aunt Mildred said,

Never throw meat in the compost pile.

Hi, I'm Leslie Nielsen.

Welcome to my garden.

I'm sure it's a lot like yours

cool, serene, completely under control.

Time to wake up and smell the roses.

The backyard is a killing field.

It's a realm of stalkers...

serial killers...

aerial combat...



So, if you're looking

for peace and quiet...

stay away from the...

savage garden.

A garden is a little slice of nature

where you get to call the shots.

You see:
A raked lawn.

A well-skimmed lily pond.

Perfect rows of vegetables.

Voltaire once wrote,

or was it Martha Stewart?

We must cultivate our garden.

Well, they're both wrong.

Pruning, planting,

whacking your weeds?

It's all beside the point!

Because the place cannot be controlled

So give it up!

Ask not what you

can do for your garden.

Ask what your garden can do for you.

Because with the right approach,

your backyard can expand your mind.

But you need the

right tool for the job.

A famous gardener once said,

I like to watch.

Because when you're "gardening,"

you're too busy to see anything.

And you're missing

all the strange and wonderful

wildness of a place

that's close to home.

And I don't mean the mall.

Now this may come as a surprise,

but I wasn't always this wise.

But I came face-to-face

with the naked garden

and I was forced to open my eyes.

What I discovered wasn't always pretty

but it was always fascinating.

Let me tell how it happened.

It began about a year ago.

I felt like a

pretty observant fellow then.

I ran a tight ship.

Yeah, I thought I was in charge.

Still, the vegetable

patch held to its own pace...

always about a month

behind my appetite!

Every day, until my tomatoes were ripe

I'd be there, watchful and proud.

I felt like a maestro,

and the vegetables were my orchestra.

And we made beautiful

gazpacho together.

I never suspected that even among

my precious tomatoes,

a trespasser ran amok.

It was a shrew.

This ravenous pipsqueak needs to eat

his weight in food every day.

For his size, he's one of the fiercest

predators in the world.

But a year ago,

I didn't even know he existed.

My mind was in the mulch.

I was too busy

savoring the fruits of my labor.

I don't like to brag,

but I thought I knew my onions.

Now all the while, this little fellow

he weighs no more than a wet tea bag

had the run of the place.

Like it or not, shrews are among the

garden's most common mammals.

They love to dig around for worms

and beetles, spiders, snails.

They work day and night,

hunting one hour,

then napping the next.

That's a schedule I could settle into.

Shrews operate at such a furious pace

that just missing a meal

could kill them.

When they're on the go,

they really live life in the fast lane.

Under stress, their hearts beat

up to 1, 300 times a minute

like mine during my last audit.

It's safe to say that no perfume maker

has ever been inspired by a shrew.

Glands on their bellies

put out a musky smell.

Only a predator with a

strong stomach will take one on.

The garter snake is

tough enough for the job.

He's one of the backyard's

great hunters

at home in the water

as well as on land.

He tastes the air with his tongue

and picks up a whiff of a shrew.

Following the trail,

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John Rubin


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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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    "National Geographic: The Savage Garden" STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 15 Jan. 2021. <>.

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