I enjoy all kinds of gardens, and I’m glad that there is so much variety out there in the gardening world. City-dwellers planting in balcony pots, people who have meticulous edges and pruned bushes, wildflower gardeners, rock gardeners, formal and wildly informal, topiary and ponds, shrubs and annuals. The gardens reflect the tastes, abilities, and interests of the gardener, as well as the soil, light and space conditions, and the gardeners’ time and financial resources. I personally favor the wild overgrown gardening style, as you can see from the photos below of the southside path taken yesterday!Visitors to the gardens are also quite various in their reactions. One friend can hardly resist pulling weeds for me–she’s like me: in my garden tours I zero in on the weeds and problems to be solved and have to remind myself to enjoy the flowers, too. And she is my garden’s grandma, since more than half of my plants came from her garden in the first place. One visitor ignored the plants and enjoyed the garden art.
One child who visited especially loved the smells and tastes of various herbs and edible plants. Most visitors like to ask questions and hear stories about the various plants. Some take me up on my standing offer to dig up extras or divisions. Recently I had a rather magical garden visitor, whom I’ll call Faith, by her middle name. I had the feeling that she saw the garden in a different way from most visitors. Like other gardeners, she said “this is a lot of work”, and like others she was happy to accept some plants to take home. But unusually she was able to experience the garden as a whole, even though it was her first visit. And she said that being in the garden made her heart happy. That, of course, made me feel happy. She made me remember how important it is to me to have friends come to visit the garden.
Some of my fellow gardeners, what I think of as my gardening family, are very important to me. They include my garden’s grandma, Eleanor, my sister and fellow gardener Jeanne, my beloved niece Rachel, and my gardening friend Kathleen. These folks were here from the very beginning of the garden–I have a photograph of Rachel sitting in the original sandy garden cross-legged reading a book. I made many trips to Eleanor’s garden returning with all the seats of the car packed with buckets of plants. I still remember visiting Kathleen’s new garden–I was part of a work team that helped remove old buried garbage from her newly-purchased home site, helping also to dig a drainage ditch. She helped me think big, and be unafraid to try anything. I remember calling her up on the morning my very first lily opened, a dark red asiatic “negros”. Other garden family members are my parents-in-law, whose woodland-like garden/yard also contributed important plants to the garden: orange poppies, blue ajuga, forget-me-nots, forsythia, turtlehead, sweet peas. And my other sister, M., with whom I have spent many happy hours sauntering through nurseries, planting, planning, and sharing divisions. And Michele, fellow gardener, faithful blog follower, and friend. When I work on widening a path or creating a new bench, I think of visitors and my gardening family and it is part of why gardening makes me so happy.