Between the ages of four and seven I lived in Ripon, Wisconsin. For some reason I hold that time in my mind as one of particular sweetness. Even though snow covered the ground for a large part of the year, my strongest memories are of gardens and green things. I remember picking wild asparagus by the side of the road, “jack in the pulpits” in the woods, and tall trees; but the most intense memories are of two gardens.
Mrs. Miller lived in a big yellow house next door. I think she was very old. We rarely saw her. Between our houses was a hedge of stunning pink and white peonies. To this day I remember the smell. They are my favorite flower.
Mrs. Pedrick was a member of our church and my special friend. She had a wonderful garden in her back yard. She was always out in a big hat doing something to her garden.
Over the years I have seen gardens that triggered memories of Ripon and thought that “When I got old I will have a garden”.
WHEN DOES A HOUSE BECOME A HOME?
When I moved to Dallas and rescued my money-pit house about seven years ago, I had no intention of planting anything. I planned to repair it, paint it, and sell it. I invested in real estate and that was the way to do it. I met my husband-to-be, and we decided to stay in the house.
Unlike me, my more evolved life partner saw our house as a home, not just a real estate investment. Huh? I always had a tape running in the back of my head, “Do not over-improve. Do not over-improve.” David always wanted to make a pretty yard. Until last year, I simply did not want to spend money that way.
DO NOT PUT OFF LIVING
The thing that changed my mind was accepting my mortality. In the previous three years, both my parents died and I had two major surgeries and a broken ankle.
If we live a long time, we will probably become frail. We could be unlucky and die tomorrow. No matter what, life does not go on forever.
So, a little over a year ago we began taking pictures of gardens we liked, reading books, interviewing landscapers, and planning a spring garden. And this spring our garden is a wonder of climbing roses, asters, petunias, daffodils, tulips, elephant ears, bushes, new tress, a herbs, tomatoes, and a fire pit surrounded by the perfect yard chairs.
I nap in a hammock and listen to the birds. I even have one peony plant, although they are not supposed to do well in Texas.
PLANT YOUR GARDEN NOW
I don’t have to wait until the end of life to experience the pleasure of my own garden. Who knew! (certainly not me)
My garden feels like eternal life with its flowers, trees, and birds. When the first crocuses peeped out of the dirt this spring I whooped for joy. I love stepping out to the herb garden for basil, tomatoes, chives, parsley, rosemary, and thyme, or tarragon when dinner recipes require them.
When my single peony showed green shoots this week, I cried.
MAKE YOUR GARDEN GROW
When I am in the garden, I hum “Make Our Garden Grow” from Leonard Bernstein’s CANDIDE.
Let dreamers dream
What worlds they please
Those Edens can’t be found.
The sweetest flowers,
The fairest trees
Are grown in solid ground.
We’re neither pure, nor wise, nor good
We’ll do the best we know.
We’ll build our house and chop our wood
And make our garden grow.
And make our garden grow!”
My garden is life. I reside in the arms of beauty.
Happy Easter! Happy Passover! Happy Spring!