A 4:15 text and suddenly, I am all kinds of motivated on a Sunday afternoon.
I raced through my last two errands of the day hoping the rain would hold off just long enough for me to get there and pick out a few new plants. I pulled into her driveway relieved to see the potted plants still out. I ignored the "Beep for service" sign and got out of my car. I browsed the selection and tried to remember what I needed. My gardens frequently end up looking like a sample sale with one of everything. Multiples. I needed multiples. Multiples of what though? Anything that wasn't purple is what I decided.
I had already set aside a few white irises when I noticed the woman next to me. It was her. We've met before. Her eyes were the exact shade of blue-gray as her sweatshirt. She had garden pruners in her back pocket and she is always smiling. She asked what I was looking for. She joined me in the hunt. Pointing out things I might want to consider. But I was distracted. I kept glancing behind her. Where her gardens were.
Her gardens, even in early June and even in the rain, are a riot of color. Salmon colored poppies dominate the center of one garden. It's hard to take your eyes off them. She was still pointing to plants and making suggestions and then she said, "I have some planted over there. Want to go see it?" Yes, please. I didn't even care if my mint green Keds got dirty. And I love my mint green Keds.
She let me stop here and there. Letting me ask whatever I wanted. Touch whatever I wanted. We wandered over to those salmon colored poppies. She pointed out a flower her mother had given to her. It's spread like mad. But a good mad, not all Jack Nicholson mug shot mad. Then she pointed out a plant native to Connecticut that is a favorite of the Monarch butterflies- milkweed, I think. Monarchs need it. There isn't enough of it. So, she planted a buffet of milkweed for them.
A tall arching yellow rose with blooms the size of crab apples, towered in the distance. She said, "You can smell it, can't you?" It's a Yellow Rose of Texas given to her years ago by another gardener. Though apparently, it's not from Texas nor is it a rose. But oddly, I knew of the gardener friend she spoke of.
I remarked on a stunning double iris. That was her first iris ever and she is so worried about losing her irises that she makes sure she plants them in multiple locations- the gardener's equivalent of a designated survivor.
I admired a delicate purple flower with a ferny leaf- Love in the Mist. Sounds very romantic. All Heathcliff and Catherine- though if they had a flower it would probably be called "Moor Drama." It came from a clipping she was given at Old Sturbridge Village, a living history museum recreating life as it was like in the early 1800's. No one ever offered me a clipping when I was at Sturbridge Village.
I admired a tall plant with flowers the color of sunset orange, "That's G-E-U-M," she said. I appreciated the fact she spelled it. I filed geum away on my brain's Pinterest Board under "Buy Some."
Geum- photo credit to JParkes.co.uk
Her gardens are thriving and sprawling. Creeping out of their original beds and invading others sometimes. But she doesn't mind. She just keeps an eye on them and reigns them back in when needed.
She thought I might like a low growing plant and then described it. She explained she doesn't really care for the flowers on it- small, insignificant tangles of yellow- but the leaves.
The leaves have a velvety texture with a scalloped edge and when it rains, the raindrops bead up and hang on to the points of the scallops and because the center of the leaf dips, a drop is cradled there too. She walked down another path to show me and sure enough, enough rain had fallen that big fats drops sat on the leaves just as she described. Garden jewelry.
It finally began to rain with purpose. I put my new plants in my car, started driving home and I thought about how much I like people who garden. In general, I have found them to be patient, optimistic, and generous. What else do you really need?