I have what I call a “wait and see garden.” It’s a mixture of cottage with a dash of Asian influence and designed with little rhyme or reason. It evolves. Although I should, I don’t plant ‘en masse,’ preferring instead to plant here and there and then wait to see how they all do. I’ve been tempted to dig it all up and start over because I like change, but I never get around to acting on these impulses. I’ve always loved flowers, who doesn’t? But I only began to seriously garden in 1994, the year my father died of cancer. I lived in an old, historic apartment building in Trolley Square in Wilmington, and the back yard was ugly and uncared for, so that year I made it pretty. Dad lived with me his last two months and he got to see the May and early June blooms. When things would get tough, I’d go out and dig, plant, deadhead and cry—it was great therapy, being able to “remove” the decay and spent blooms. I had control over that—but not over what was happening to my daddy. Gardening blessed me with peace and a lot of satisfaction, for my father enjoyed my first venture and I was happy to add the color into is graying life. I would set some of the blooms at his bedside and that made him feel special.
Much of my existing garden I owe to a dear friend and talented country gardener from Hershey, Pa. who loaded me up with all kinds of cuttings. Creeping Jenny, Rose campions and many sedums, and pretty little things I still don’t know the name of. When they come up each year I think of her! One thing that is universal about gardeners is their generous nature. Other plants I have bought locally—Windsor’s in Lewes and Peppers in Milton. If I pass by any kind of garden center, I am compelled to go in! My wallet is lighter but my garden is richer. A measure of my garden came from donations by the many birds we attract with houses, feeders and a pond. I have three butterfly bushes I never planted!
Hydrangeas were my mother’s favorite flower/shrub. She had tons of them in a summer home in Brigantine, and I have early memories of her watering them, and cutting them for arrangements and trying to root them in water! She was better at that than I am! I love dividing and propagating. All of my Siberian irises came from one plant, and I get great joy from spinning off the plants that now call my .75 acres of land, ‘home.’
I am an avid photographer. A camera is a very important gardening tool! The lens has a way of capturing and isolating form, shape, light and color the way the human eye cannot. We’ve all heard the saying, “Stop and smell the roses” and we also need to stop and look too. Slowly. Drift by. I am particularly interested in the way flowers look before they bloom, and after they have seen their photo-finest day. It would be little fun photographing only beautiful people in the peak of their lives. So too, with plant life in their prime. I enjoy taking their teenage and senior portraits—capturing the forms, colors and shapes of their brief life cycles. Now anytime I step outside, I am never without my hand spade and pruner, and my trusty, dusty Nikon!
In 2012, my husband planted our first vegetable garden. We have five concrete block raised beds. He’s done all the hard work. I get to eat and show off the results. It’s going to be fun making that pretty…adding some flowers and garden art and maybe staining the block. Between the two of us, we are almost always out in the back yard in our unfashionable grungy clothes, (Crocs!! My daughter tells me are so way uncool…yes I know…but they make great garden shoes!) digging, swatting mosquitoes, thinking about what will come next! Gardening is like life itself, always changing—with some successes and failures. Something wonderful enters this world, planned or by random, grows beautiful before you and then withers away. Always this mysterious cycle of life! After death comes rebirth—the new life carrying the history of the old, but changed by the interference of a bee, a butterfly or a bug—delightful changes painted in by nature, or something I might have done, wrong or right, by accident or on purpose!
This blog name was inspired by the lyrics of the Beatles’ song Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, “Everyone smiles as they drift past the flowers, that grow so incredibly high.” Please drift by, and smile!