Appreciating George and gardening:
"Sort out middle of ‘Brainwashed’; cut down yew trees at back of lodge." - A note by George in one of his notebooks to remind himself of what needed doing, as quoted in Mojo, December 2002
"I don’t want to be in the business full-time because I’m a gardener: I plant flowers and watch them grow." - George Harrison, 1989
"I’m really quite simple… I plant flowers and watch them grow. I don’t go out to clubs and partying. I stay at home and watch the river flow." - George Harrison
"I’m not really into lots of little flowers. I like gardening in a landscape way - like great artists painting pictures… I like what you can paint with trees and stuff." - George Harrison, quoted in Mystical One: George Harrison After the Break-up of The Beatles
The glimpses of the gardens at Friar Park (including in Living in the Material World), in Hawaii, and at the Harrison’s Australian home
"When he was young, he used to go out into the woods on his own in Liverpool. I’d say, ‘Did you go on your own?’ ‘Yeah, I used to go off on my bike for hours just to be outside in the air, in the elements and beautiful trees.’ He said he felt close to God in nature. Anything that gave him the opportunity to transcend mundane life was where he wanted to be. If that was Formula One, fine. If that was in the gardens great. If it was in the studio, that was it." - Olivia Harrison, 2009
"[George] had a very wicked sense of humor, a bit like Lennon - very, very cutting.
He was a bit like an earth mother, in a way. He loved his gardening, he loved his wife, he loved his kid, he loved his house, Friar Park, and he restored that house as much as he could.” - Elton John, Rolling Stone, 2002
"[At Friar Park] he would discover the other great love of his, gardening, which became a living example of his concern to create beauty on the planet wherever he could." - Eric Idle, The Greedy Bastard Diary
"I think he’d like to be remembered as a great musician and… a gardener." - Jeff Lynne, Brainwashed EPK
"You’re on holiday with [George] and every morning he’d say, ‘Oh, come and see the trees’. ‘Okay, yeah’. And then the next day, ‘Oh, come and see the trees’. ‘Yeah, okay’. And then, ‘Come and see…’ ‘I’ve seen your bloody trees!’" - Ringo Starr, Genesis Publications website
"He’d garden at night-time until midnight. He’d be out there squinting because he could see, at midnight, the moonlight and the shadows, and that was his way of not seeing the weeds or imperfections that would plague him during the day, so he could imagine what it would look like when it was done. He missed nearly every dinner because he was in the garden. He would be out there from first thing in the morning to the last thing at night." - Dhani Harrison, Living in the Material World
"My father was very lovely when I was growing up. I might have gotten in trouble for anything to do with hurting trees or guitars but not much else. That would land you in a lot of trouble at my house. He was very reasonable. But he didn’t mess around. He was stern, but he was very cool. He would play his guitars and have a cup of tea in the garden. That was the way it went. He liked to just plant trees all day long." - Dhani Harrison, Filter, fall 2011
"As a small boy, Dhani says, ‘I was pretty sure he was just a gardener.’ […] ‘Being a gardener and not hanging out with anyone and just being home, that was pretty rock & roll, you know?’ says Dhani, who understood his father’s affinity: ‘When you’re in a really beautiful garden, it reminds you constantly of God.’ […] [In the summer of 2011, Dhani gazed at the Friar Park’s garden] It had never looked better - the trees his father had planted have finally grown. ‘He’s probably laughing at me,’ says Dhani, ‘saying, "That’s what it’s supposed to look like." You don’t build a garden for yourself, right now - you build a garden for future generations. My father definitely had a long view.’" - Rolling Stone, 2011
"George once said to me, ‘I’m in the wrong job. I should have been a gardener really. It took me five years to become famous and 45 years trying to become a nobody.’" - Joe Brown
“‘You know, it took many, many years until I understood that this grass has a special meaning to me. Somehow I feel connected to it. So when I’m not here anymore, than you just have to imagine me as a swaying sea of grass and then I’ll be close to you.’
I must have looked rather clueless. For one, it was news to me that he had a special relationship with grass, and for another I didn’t like the idea one bit that George might soon no longer be here.
George seemed to guess my thoughts. ‘Grass isn’t just grass. There are thousands of different types, soft, hard, long short. I love these big fields with the long, soft grass, the waves when the wind sweeps through them. How much easier would our life be if we could learn from these observations? Just give in to the wind of life and not always resist it. You know what I mean?’ George laughed mischievously.[…]
Slowly he watered the problem child [tree] from all sides. ‘Alright, that’s enough now.’ Then he patted the tree trunk and smiled. ‘Good boy, now we both feel better again.’” - Klaus Voormann on visiting George at Friar Park in spring 2001, Warum spielst du Imagine nicht auf dem weissen Klavier, John?; full excerpt here
"In the course of a day I might have said, ‘Oh, your bit of the garden looks great’, to which he would reply, ‘It’s not my garden, Liv’. It was his way of reminding himself and me that we are pure Spirit, and that the Spirit is in ‘every grain of sand’, belonging to everyone and no one; that nothing is ‘mine’ and that the ‘I’ we all refer to must be recognized as the little ‘i’ in the larger scheme of the Universe.” - From Olivia Harrison’s introduction to I Me Mine
"George showed me the creativity and fun that was involved. One day, for example, we looked out of the window and decided everything in the garden was too green, so we went on a colour binge, buying lots of brightly coloured flowers.
In terms of landscape design, he liked the idea of Capability Brown, so we started calling him Capability George.
He thought that everyone, as a matter of course, should have themselves regularly overwhelmed by nature. He used to say that all unused buildings should be knocked down and gardens put in their place.
The way nature played tricks amused him, too. Once he planted lots of this pinky coloured weed on one side of the lake only for it all to spring up on the other side. ‘It’s jumped,’ he laughed. Without a doubt, George never felt more at peace than when he was gardening. He loved the gardens here and always said you felt closest to God when you were in the garden.
Some days when he was working in the recording studio, he’d look out of the window and say, with a shake of his head, ‘We’re not getting much gardening done today.’
Every time I go out there, I think he’ll just pop out from behind a shrub, like he used to.” - Olivia Harrison, 2008
Q: “How much time did he spend in the garden?”
Olivia Harrison: “Hours and hours. I bought him one of those lights you put on your head. He wasn’t just out in the garden, he was IN the garden. He would walk out the door and come back in with the tiniest little thing and he’d go, ‘Look a that!’ - and he’d hand you the tiniest flower.
He’d notice things. We’d walk in the grass and he’d bend over and go, ‘Oh, look at that little guy’ and it would be a bug. I’d say, ‘How did you see that?’ He was just really present.” (The Sun, 12 June 2009)