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My Own Acre
by [?]

“Don’t” ever, if you can help it, says another of my old mistakes to me, let your acre lead your guest to any point which can be departed from only by retracing one’s steps. Such necessities involve a lapse–not to say collapse–of interest, which makes for dulness and loss of dignity. Lack what my own acre may, I have it now so that by its alleys, lawns and contour paths in garden and grove we can walk and walk through every part of it without once meeting our own tracks, and that is not all because of the pleasant fact that the walks, where not turfed, are covered with pine-straw, of which each new September drops us a fresh harvest.

A garden, we say, should never compel us to go back the way we came; but in truth a garden should never compel us to do anything. Its don’ts should be laid solely on itself. Those applicable to its master, mistress, or guests should all be impossibilities, not requests. “Private grounds, no crossing”–take that away, please, wherever you can, and plant your margins so that there can be no crossing. Wire nettings hidden by shrubberies from all but the shameless trespasser you will find far more effective, more promotive to beauty and more courteous. “Don’t” make your garden a garden of don’ts.

For no garden is quite a garden until it is “Joyous Gard.” Let not yours or mine be a garden for display. Then our rhododendrons and like splendors will not be at the front gate, and our grounds be less and less worth seeing the farther into them we go. Nor let yours or mine be a garden of pride. The ways of such a garden are not pleasantness nor its paths peace. And let us not have a garden of tiring care or a user up of precious time. That is not good citizenship. Neither let us have an old-trousers, sun-bonnet, black finger-nails garden–especially if you are a woman. A garden that makes a wife, daughter or sister a dowdy is hardly “Joyous Gard.” Neither is one which makes itself a mania to her and an affliction to her family. Let us not even have, you or me, a wonder garden–of arboreal or floral curiosities. Perhaps because I have not travelled enough I have never seen a garden of exotics that was a real garden in any good art sense; in any way, that is, lastingly pleasing to a noble spirit. Let your garden, and let mine, be the garden of joy. For the only way it can be that, on and on, year in, year out, is to be so good in art and so finely human in its purposes that to have it and daily keep it will make us more worth while to ourselves and to mankind than to go without it.