Gardens are simultaneously a material and a spiritual undertaking. That’s hard for scientists, so fully brainwashed by Cartesian dualism, to grasp. “Well, how would you know it’s love and not just good soil?” she asks. “Where’s the evidence? What are the key elements for detecting loving behavior?”

That’s easy. No one would doubt that I love my children, and even a quantitative social psychologist would find no fault with my list of loving behaviors:

• nurturing health and well-being
• protection from harm
• encouraging individual growth and development
• desire to be together
• generous sharing of resources
• working together for a common goal
• celebration of shared values
• interdependence
• sacrifice by one for the other
• creation of beauty

If we observed these behaviors between humans, we would say, “She loves that person.” You might also observe these actions between a person and a bit of carefully tended ground and say, “She loves that garden.” Why then, seeing this list, would you not make the leap to say that the garden loves her back?

The exchange between plants and people has shaped the evolutionary history of both.

Excerpt from Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Kimmerer