What a happy coincidence! Ten years ago today, I spied The Gardener’s Bed-Book upon the “Recommended Reading” table sponsored by the Michigan Horticultural Therapy Association.

Perhaps you’ve never heard of the group, or their annual conference. I hadn’t either until the Conference Chair of 2012 invited me to speak about the therapeutic benefits of growing lavender.

To better illustrate the plant’s versatility, the committee included my lavender products for sale. “And you’re welcome to sit in the workshops,” the Chair said.

I couldn’t have imagined this perfect match! An entire day with people who understand the healing relationship between plants and people.

First, to better represent the MHTAC, here’s their description from their website: “Horticultural Therapy is the participation in horticultural activities facilitated by a registered horticultural therapist to achieve specific goals within an established treatment, rehabilitation, or vocational plan. Horticultural Therapy is an active process which occurs in the context of an established treatment plan where the process itself is considered the therapeutic activity rather than the end product.”

Indeed! That March day within the lobby of Michigan State University’s greenhouse, I discovered one of Richardson Wright’s many books – an author unknown to me (1887-1961).

The subtitle, “short and long pieces to be read in bed by those who love green and growing things” sold me. It seemed the perfect obliging book to nod off at night with my head on the pillow and the light on.

Surprisingly, when April rolled around, I decided to try Richardson’s witty and wise voice in the morning. The Connecticuter’s final one-liners of garden advice developed into my gardening directive for the day.

Although congenial, Mr. Wright holds a gardener’s shovel to the manure and hands to their secateurs. No matter the weather.

His January 20 bit of advice, for instance. “All tree pruning should be finished before the end of this month.”

I roll my eyes and shiver. “Who’s he kidding? It’s ten degrees out there!”

February 21 he points the procrastinator outdoors. “See that loose bark on fruit trees, where bugs might hide, is now scraped off.”

“Now?! Today?!” I ask. “I love my little fruit trees, but I’m not scraping off loose bark in that icy wind!”

Endearingly, on March 4 Richardson Wright offers me one last nudge. “All pruning of trees, shrubs and vines should be finished before the sap starts to rise.”

I hear the plea my friend’s voice. On the tenth anniversary of our morning meetings, I know he wrote this book because he desires my garden success.

And it’s up to me, even though I don’t know if the sap’s started to rise. How can I let down my number one gardening resource? And my five fruit trees?

Dear Reader, a fair day of sun and no wind, I gather my pruners and pink ladder and walk into my orchard of two apple, two pear, and one peach tree.

Exhilarated, I prune by the Wright book. Don’t worry about the sap rising. And get the job done.

Contact Iris at irisfarmletters@gmail.com.