Wallace Stegner and the New West

Friends, I adore Wallace Stegner’s writings. His descriptions of the American West make my heart soar. A couple of the most elegantly turned phrases in particular:

Native home of hope.
Geography of hope.

I found this at the website of the Center of the American West and the Wallace Stegner Award: It’s a quote by Stegner, directed at the folks who have been singled out as the most noble caretakers and voices of this home of hope:

“Angry as one may be at what careless people have done and still do to a noble habitat, it is hard to be pessimistic about the West. This is the native home of hope. When it finally learns that cooperation, not rugged individualism, is the pattern that most characterizes and preserves it, then it will have achieved itself and outlived its origins. Then it has a chance to create a society to match the scenery.”


What, you might ask, does this have to do with gardening? Glad you DID ask. I was doing research on the West with a capital “W”. I am truly wedded to this place. I have been reading the Atlas of the New West for a new project:The Rocky Mountain Gardener’s Resource. To be published by Cool Springs Press, January 2011. 384 pages with 286 plant profiles and photos, what to do in the garden month by month, tips, lists, maps, checklists, an incredible bibliography (if I do say so myself), edibles/vegetable gardening information…the works!

My thought is this: the better I understand this native home of hope, the better my contribution to the project.