Digging Up Gardening Humor in Manure

If you have a little gardening humor in you, and an appreciation for all things gardening, put down your breakfast and enjoy this beautiful ode to manure.

Cow dung, also known as cow pies or cow manure, is the holy grail ingredient on the farm where the biggest gardens are grown. It’s also packed and shipped off to garden supply stores everywhere to help out the little gardens, too. I’ve never been too romantic about it, mostly I just look forward to washing my hands after transporting bags of it. I am armed with gardening humor about it, though.

And hey, maybe you’ve decided now that you’ll skip today’s story, and aren’t in the mood for potty humor, but just wait, because I was today years old when I learned that reading about manure could be a bit of a religious experience. You might need some gardening humor and convincing to believe today’s piece, “The Fragrance of Manure” is something you want to read while sipping your morning coffee.

“A cartload of manure is most beautiful when it is brought on a frosty day,” it starts… “so that it steams like a sacrificial altar. When its fragrance reaches heaven, He who understands all things sniffs and says: “Um, that’s some nice manure.”

It doesn’t stop there, either. In this piece, hailed from The Gardener’s Year, manure is compared to marmalade, and it just gets better from there. Maybe you do want to put down your toast for this one, but I can’t help but admire someone who finds such beauty in poo.

There’s More Gardening Humor Where That Came From

This story comes from our archive that spans over 30 years and includes more than 130 magazine issues of GreenPrints. Pieces like these that inject gardening humor into everyday life lessons always brighten up my day, and I hope it does for you as well. Enjoy!

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The Fragance of Manure

By Karel Capek

Yes, improve the soil. A cartload of manure is most beautiful when it is brought on a frosty day, so that it steams like a sacrificial altar. When its fragrance reaches heaven, He who understands all things sniffs and says: “Um, that’s some nice manure.”—Here, of course, we have an opportunity to talk of the mysterious cycle of life; a horse chews oats, and then he sends them on to the carnations or roses, which next year will praise God for the gift with such a sweet perfume that is beyond description. This sweet perfume the gardener notices already in the reeking and strawy heap of manure; and he sniffs approvingly, and he carefully spreads this gift of God over the whole garden as if he were spreading marmalade on his child’s bread. Here you go, little chum, may you enjoy it! To you, Mrs. Herriot, I shall give a whole pile, because you flowered so finely and richly; you, feverfew, will get this cake to keep you quiet; and with this brown straw I will make a bed for you, you jealous phlox.

Good people, why do you screw up your face? Don’t you like my smell?

—By Karel Capek, from my all-time favorite garden book, The Gardener’s Year. Did I mention that this absolutely beautiful, charming, and utterly irresistible read is available in our store?

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Did this piece of gardening humor remind you of a similar story you’d like to share? Leave a comment below, I’d love to hear it. 


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