Alan Chadwick a Gardener of Souls

Quotations by and about Alan Chadwick


Oak Leaves in Spring



"He had a peculiar force as a teacher. He visited Saratoga once to give a lecture. He was on his best behavior, but still was a terrible old man and terrifying except to stout and free souls."

― Jeff Nichols, referring to Alan Chadwick. Quoted from, Paul Lee,"There Is A Garden In the Mind"




“We are the living links in a life force that moves and plays around and through us, binding the deepest soils with the farthest stars.”

― Alan Chadwick



"If you want to leave, . . . leave! If not, . . . get out!"

― Alan Chadwick



"The decline of true taste for food is the beginning of a decline in a national culture as a whole. When people have lost their authentic personal taste, they lose their personality and become the instruments of other people's wills."

― Robert Graves, from a talk given at M.I.T., often quoted by Alan Chadwick



"A good gardener looks at every plant every day."

― Alan Chadwick, as said to Greg Haynes in Santa Cruz







"Alan Chadwick’s garden is a ‘garden of the mind’ as much as it is of the soil, and like all genuinely inspired creations it has the power to stir us to new dreams, to a new vision of what man and nature can do, together."

― Page Smith, UCSC Professor of History




"There is nothing much better than a large brown paper bag with a big opening, one of the very big ones. 'SAFEWAY,' you see, becomes useful for the first time."

― Alan Chadwick, speaking about methods for storing seeds collected in the garden, lecture September 12, 1979



Alan Chadwick is "the greatest horticulturist of the 20th century."

― E.F. Schumacher (Small is Beautiful)



"If you obey the technique to perfection, that technique will become invisible."

― Alan Chadwick



"Science is an excellent piece of furniture to have in the second story, providing that you have common sense on the ground floor."

― Quoted by Alan Chadwick, lecture September 4, 1979. Originally by Oliver Wendell Holmes.


Calypso Orchid




"I remember driving out on the mountain road as we said farewell to our Mountain Buddhist retreat at Tassajara, and Alan telling me to stop so he could get out. He walked ahead of the car and put his hand down so a tarantula could crawl onto it, and he walked over to the side of the road and put his hand down so it could crawl off. Then he got back into the car. I was impressed. I had never seen anything like that before. We drove on."

― Paul Lee referring to Alan Chadwick, quoted from, "There Is A Garden In the Mind"







"The term biodynamics — push it aside, it is verbosity. It doesn’t matter a bit. One has to use words to make headings, that’s all it is. It’s rather like the stupidity in a picture gallery today where you have to write under it what the scene or person is. It is equally as nonsensical as that. Therefore to talk about biodynamic gardening, biodynamic horticulture, biodynamic agriculture and the French intensive system is merely a horrible heading of terminology."

― Alan Chadwick, lecture of September 3, 1979, Carmel-in-the-Valley, Virginia



"There is one rule in the garden that is above all others. You must give to nature more than you take. Obey it, and the earth will provide you in glorious abundance."

― Alan Chadwick



"It is not the gardener that makes the garden. It is the garden that makes the gardener."

― Alan Chadwick



"The one infallible sign that a spiritual teacher is a fraud is that he charges money for his instruction."

― Alan Chadwick



"Filthy, mucky tools: filthy, mucky work. Clean, beautiful tools: clean, beautiful work."

― Alan Chadwick, as said to Greg Haynes in Santa Cruz



"It is all a mystery. The grass is grass. It’s a secret. It’s a mystery. You can’t know it. You can’t understand it, and you mustn’t try. Because the moment you try you can’t perceive it. When you stop trying to understand it in words, you will begin to perceive it. You do begin to perceive it."

― Alan Chadwick, lecture of September 3, 1979, Carmel-in-the-Valley, Virginia



"We need to create the beauty and the quality first. The quantity will follow."

Alan Chadwick



"What is commonly called a pest is nature's way of bringing back into balance an imbalance that man has created."

Alan Chadwick



"Patience is not a virtue!"

― Alan Chadwick (For the context of this statement, click here.)


Rose (Photo by Greg Haynes)




"And now, suddenly, this coming up of nature, of the garden, enters your diaphragm and connects again with the cosmic, and your spiritual image is lifted again into a real that no verbosity, no ordinary study through words, through books, can give you."

― Alan Chadwick, lecture, 13 September, 1979, Carmel-in-the-Valley, Virginia






"He was a gardener of souls."

― Allen Kalpin, speaking of Alan Chadwick



"These people live; others haven't even been born."

― John Cage, speaking of Alan Chadwick and his apprentices. Quoted in Paul Lee," There Is A Garden In the Mind"




For a collection of inspiring quotes about gardening, nature, and life, click here.




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