I found these words after a long search for a good reading for the funeral of a keen gardener. We wanted something serious and dignified but not too sad, that reflected the labour and dedication he had put into his last years doing nothing less than creating a garden of great beauty. The words are all from John Evelyn's introductory dedication to his
Which he published in 1669. I took some liberties editing the text and punctuation to try to make a reading which would appeal to a modern audience, but the words are all his.
When we have so much celebrated the Life and Felicity of an excellent Gardener it is not because of the Leisure which he enjoys above other men. There is not amongst men a more laborious life than is that of a good gardener's. But because the Labour is full of Tranquility and Satisfaction; Natural and Instructive, and contributes to Contemplation, Experience, Health, and Longevity, a Condition it is, furnished with the most innocent, laudable, and purest of earthly felicities.
The Labour, because there is nothing excellent which is to be attained without it, a gard’ner’s work is never at an end. It begins with the Year, and continues to the next: He prepares the Ground, and then he sows it; after that he plants, and then he gathers the fruits: But in all the intermedial Spaces he is careful to dress it.
All which duly, weighed, How precious the Time is!