Editor's Letter: Renewal in the garden
Years ago I got a gardening award out of the clear blue sky. In the mail came an invitation to a Civic and Garden Club luncheon, where I’d be lauded for a little dooryard garden planted by a new gate separating the street from our backyard. The prize was a framed photograph of that garden.
The Garden Club members would have had no idea how thrilling this was for me. At the time I was a recent ex-New Yorker: my gardening experience consisted of sweeping a front stoop. I’d started my experiment with nature out by the road because it was a small, confined area, and because I’d hoped that the little garden (and the new, rather tall wood fence) would distract passersby from the eyesore beyond—the dilapidated house in the midst of structural renovations. I half think the judges, offering encouragement, had taken pity on us.
A green thumb was less apparent during other early initiatives. I bought plants familiar from my New Jersey childhood, only to have them die from cold or wind or salt; this New England house is hard by the Atlantic. It turned out that some plants I’d remembered as shade-loving need more sun up here. My preferred roses demanded constant fussing that I wasn’t prepared to give. Still, everything seemed a success after that first year, when “gardening” meant finding a discarded clothes-washer drum in a weedy hillock (the center of which was a monster rhubarb with a 10-foot wingspan), and digging up the asphalt shingles that had been laid as a path. Really.
After all the clearing, clues emerged. I was astonished, looking out the window come spring, to see naturalized daffodils and money plant (lunaria) pop up, revealing where an earlier garden had flourished. Hostas came back strong. Volunteer plants took hold: johnny-jump-ups, lily-of-the-valley, slender purple irises. If only the house had renewed itself so readily!
~Patricia Poore, Editorial Director of Old House Journal
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