Friday, June 26, 2009

Green Thumbs

I have no garden of my own right now. I could do something at Lucas Lane, and the fact that my current little home has a supply of tiger lily, azaelea, peony and rose helps keep me sane. But I haven't paid it much attention, just grateful for the touch of it keeping me from going without. The women who raised me loved to dig in the dirt. Some years more than others, but always with a great deal of love. I truly miss my garden and although this is poorly organized I'm keeping it as is because it was completely unprompted - this is how it fell out of my head. Today, I realized while this was being typed, that I have a very large part of my heart in a garden so much so that I know my future happiness will have a lot of dirt in it.

If all else failed that season there were always the shasta daisies. In a good year though, the flowers never stopped in orchestra from the spring overture to fall serenade. Crocus, tulips and big bright dafs announced the hostas and columbine.

Displayed in height order from the far back and tall delphiniums and ornamental trees to the creeping myrtle floor of the edge of the bed.

Some flowers were heirlooms, grandma's dahlias and peony bushes franchised around the west end. From the side of Cherry Road to the deep reaching perfection of Winkworth Parkway.
The peonies were pale pink and fat with silky abundant petals so dense the bud weighed down the branch. At Cherry Road they were completely unexpected and tucked on the side of the house that no one ever went, where we kept the long ladders and brush clippings. They couldn't be seen from the windows in the living room, but lying in my parents bed with the casement open I could smell them.

I would have pressed my face into them regularly, but their nemesis proved protection and I was not a beetle's friend.

We'd tuck hen and chicks into the rocks at Cherry Road and make beds of impatiens in the shade. The stone path at Winkworth saw geraniums and allysm under fresh fluffy peat. Grandma Holmes taught me how to water hanging shade baskets on the back porch and Grandma Rhoades would walk her Ormsby Drive garden letting me help her pull weeds. Mom grew wild strawberries and a field of flox. Grandma Holmes grew eucalyptus for tea.

From my bed I had a view through my box window past the white birch to the wall of forsythia that would blaze sunny yellow in spring. Summer would flash by until the mums came in and the flower boxes were stored and a pumpkin put out with corn stalks tied to the lamp-post.

I've tried to build a garden, then had to abandon it. I foolishly thought it would be mine. I thought I would stay in one place long enough for hydrangea to mature or to culture a wall of daylilies. I thought I would split bulbs of tulips and daffs of my own, imagined I would finally master a rose bush and bring up a rhododendron from the root. I cower at the thought of my corner stone perennials mistaken for weeds and put to the corner. My only hope is some wise passer by picked the garbage.

I was nursing a lilac bush and exchanging seeds with my neighbor. I stayed long enough to see the cosmos and viola survive by the holly and then it was gone. The earth I thought I claimed and had the privilege of playing in for a few seasons was never meant to be. I liberated it from sprawling juniper and infused it with little fragile dreams. We were dependent on each other for survival and now left to attempt to make on our own in the wild.

I wonder if the people there now know that all that ivy came from a single twig. I wonder if they know that the dwarf iris patch is touchy and the hostas need to be moved to the shade.

Aunt Sue had a small jockey statue in her back garden near the pool and we would play in the dark hiding in her annual beds. Aunt Carolyn liked the hardiness of vinca over impatiens. Aunt Sharon created a dream. I've walked Versaille many times but no garden has come close to the perfection of Aunt Sharon's Winkworth Parkway. I'll never forget Janice's bridal shower in her back yard. All the white dressed tables, the perfect day, the flowers.

When you take a small frail, maybe half dead plant and you bring it up into something beautiful its so gratifying. It has no voice but you try to anticipate its needs. You try to read it, understand it, listen to silence and nurse it to health. And if you fail it withers, it gives you clear signs and time to mourn. If you succeed it amazes you and blesses you with colorful and aromatic thanks.

I grew up in gardens.

No comments:

Post a Comment