Alan Chadwick and Joseline Stauffacher in Santa Cruz

Alan Chadwick a Gardener of Souls

Alan Chadwick at the Urban Garden Symposium,1975, Part 4


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Contents of this Segment:

Questions and answers. When asked where all this information is written down, Alan suggests that it must be learned from someone who understands it in a practical sense. You can no more learn gardening from a book than you could learn to play the violin from a book: It is an art. The mystery of nature is ineffable. Education must be based on nature study. When asked about where one can go to study Biodynamics, Alan suggests that there are people who are equipped to teach these matters, as for example, the apprentice graduates from Covelo. When asked about the elemental beings, gnomes, undines, nymphs, etc., Alan states that these are mere verbalisms for the mysteries that operate between the invisible and the visible. When asked about nicotiana affinis, Alan offers to provide free seeds from Covelo. (10:10)


Full Text of this Lecture:



Alan Chadwick Lectures at the Urban Garden Symposium in 1975, Part 4

Everything is Governed by an Invisible Law


Chadwick: Would you care to have a short period of questions and answers?

Questioner: “I have a question, and that is, where is all this information available...” [Is there a book which covers these topics?]

Chadwick: No, I would not say so. If you would play the violin, would you get a book from the library?

Questioner: … The same questioner protesting, asking for a reference book: “Well, I might try to get some music…some information”

Chadwick: I think that what I am endeavoring to say is something that I want to introduce very briefly. At the University of Padua, in 1400 odd, a bunch of professors said “You know that there’s no question that the ancients were right that in that the whole plant world is a magic that you can’t understand. And therefore we must have this introduced to the University.” And a whole bunch of professors leapt up and said “Quite right, good, good”, and “now we’ve got the library, it’s over here.” And two or three of them said “Uh-uh, stop.” “Over there, we are going to have a Herbarium.” And that is the whole point. They decided that the one thing that they needed first was a garden of plants. And then they could teach about the magic of herbs.

Now if you give a name to a plant like Angelica archangelica, that goes bang up in the attic in that terrible box [the skull] that’s loaded with every conceivable madness imaginable of words. What do you know about the plant? I would ask you, what do you know about Vervain? What do you know about Betony? Vervain is the most magical plant in the world, Betony is the second most magical plant in the world. What do you even know about Petroselinum? And as you would say sir, how can I find out?

What I’m suggesting is this: that every area in California, as soon as soon as possible, should be given a piece of land by the state, by the civic authorities. That over it should be a reasonably good professional classical horticulturalist who understands some of these matters. And that this person should be responsible for leading the children, the youth, and the public into the vision of those incredible matters that are our very life that we have utterly and hopelessly forgotten. And there is no other way about it. Where did all education come from? Fairy stories, mythology, parables, handed down from regions and regions long before anything was written in words. An incredible magic of reality. The moment that you put things into regurgitated words, you have put them into brackets of unutterable limitations. You must first know the laws of nature, the characters of plants, how they grow, where they grow. Then we can give them a silly name like hunky-dunk and piff-poff, and baby-blue-eyes. Then we can stand and laugh, but until then: No. That’s my best answer to you. I’m sorry.

Questioner: “I think what I was asking was where we could get information concerning the laws of growth and perhaps the kinds of things you’d plant together in order to produce a balanced garden.”

Chadwick: Indeed. I fully understand what your question is and what you are saying. I feel that this has to be a growth of study. And it is one of those things that we have thrown away. And it has to come back. There was a period when every country person understood their climatics, understood their soils, their animals, their wild plants and knew them intimately. What children today are really educated or led into the whole of this? There is no approach to it. It is all about how to make a motor car, how to watch a television set. If you are terribly busy with that, you can’t be very very busy watching the sunrise. And I think that’s the whole answer. And it’s a huge enigma, and I don’t think we ought to look at it too closely, because it’s rather frightening. But I think we should undo it as quickly as we can.

Questioner: I don’t know how you study it if you have no source, if you don’t know where to go to study it. You have to go somewhere… Everyone has to.

Chadwick: There are an enormous quantity of people who have a reasonable knowledge of the techniques of horticulture, of the knowledge of plant character. I am not at all refuting the enormous knowledges of universities, schools, education. I am not refuting any of it. But what I am possibly trying to prevent are the hallucinations of words. But there is knowledgeability. But that we are not making use of it. We have lost our pallets, we have lost our taste. Are you aware of the egg that you eat that you would far better not be eating. The way in which that chicken was kept is absolutely monstrous. It is no connection to the bird at all. And do you realize, madam, that, had you turned to doves or crows and asked them to lay an egg a day, they would through the goodness of God have done it. And that elephants would give you eight gallons of milk, as a cow does, if we had asked them to do it. There is nothing in nature that we are not going to get if we ask for it. If you want a purple pear and a white plum, it is there, in no time, abracadabra. It is all there.

Questioner: I believe you, but where are we going to learn it if it is not written down... We haven’t time to go out and commune with nature, as you have probably done all your life…  We don’t have time for that…  We have to earn a living…

Chadwick: Never... How much is the price of a tomato? Nothing. There never has been a price for a tomato or anything else. It is free, it is absolutely free. It is our incredible insanity that makes you tear all over the place, so that you can’t afford it. And after a short time you can’t eat it. Yes it is true. Search into nature and be obedient and reverent.

Questioner: Can you tell us something of Pan, of the gnomes, the elves and the fairies?

Chadwick: Yes, you have indeed struck an interesting matter. And of course today it is a huge guffaw, but it really concerns verbosity, curiously enough. Gnomes, elves undines, nymphs, all of these matters of course are absolutely real, there’s no question about it. They are and always have been the interweavers of the intermediaries. And they always are those things that are not seen. How is it that a flower suddenly opens? How is it that the seed pod will turn there and place itself in the wall in ways inestimable that you can’t understand? How is it that a seed would even germinate, that a plum would fall to the ground? It is the action of the intermediaries that operate between the visible and the invisible. And at one period of verbosity, that proceeding had to be given a name, and those names were elves, undines, nymphs, and numerous other things.

Questioner: What is the common name for that plant that controls aphids?

Chadwick: Nicotiana afinis, tobacco, the white tobacco. If you want the seed, write to us at Covelo and I will get you some, because you can’t buy it. It is not on sale normally. Nicotiana afinis. If you want some seed we can let you have it. Thank you very much. Wonderful.





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