Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Contributions of Others to My Garden



This is a sad time of the year for gardeners. The soil is frozen and my perennials are an ugly brown mess. What keeps us gardeners going during the winter months are the seed catalogues and great garden writing. I received the following post from my friend Fran Waksler which reminded me of the rewards of gardening:

The Contributions of Others to My Garden

I have certainly purchased my share of plants, but I particularly treasure those that, in a variety of ways, came from others. Each tree or plant repeatedly reminds me of them.

When I was a teenager, my mother discovered the yew tree (pictured above) behind her garage. It was about a foot tall and with two short branches--not particularly impressive--but my mother fell in love with it. I moved it to a patch in front of her dining room window where it thrived and grew to about 4 feet.

When my husband and I bought a two-family house with my mother, I dug up her tree to bring with us. It was quite an adventure. The taproot went down forever and I only managed to get most of it out with a friendly workman in the adjoining schoolyard (who, unfortunately, got in trouble with his boss). Because of a snag, passing papers on our house was delayed for three months so the tree languished in burlap through the autumn into the winter. I finally planted it in December and was not optimistic but, as can be seen, it thrived.

As I walk through my garden, I have many fond reminders of others. The forsythia are from my mother’s yard; they were always her favorite. The crabapple tree (Alex and Frances) and rugosa rose (Peter and Susie) were housewarming gifts. The clump birch was a silver anniversary present from Jerry, Hannah, and Jim; it was supposed to be a silver birch, but the clump birch seemed a better choice for us. The dogwood is from Marjie. The kerria in the front garden is a gift from Denise; it came along with a bit of periwinkle that now covers the patch around the kerria. The asters are an indirect gift from Denise: she gave some to Assim who, when they spread too wildly, passed some on to me. The coral bells and sweet woodruff came from Peg. I had purple violets, Mary Ellen had white: now we each have both.

My two-story high white rose (pictured above) as well as my red rose come from my friend at the garden center, who gave them to me one spring because, as he said, “They look too bad to sell, but I’m sure they’ll grow for you.” And they did. (After I planted the white rose, and it was established and 5 feet tall, I realized that it was growing outward instead of inward against the porch where I wanted it. It what at the time I thought of as a bit of madness, I dug it up and turned it around. Despite my fears, it thrived.) And, of course, the purple phlox (and a stray white one) come from Karen, who always comments on how well they like my yard.

Walking through my garden is a visit with all those who have contributed to my garden.

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