It was dismal for the first year, but the transformation began immediately after curvaceous beds were dug stretching from the former cobbler shop/current writing studio to the street. Initially, I let my inner flower child call the punches and planted every perennial that stole my heart. Apparently, too many bloomers were cardiac thieves because the beds were cheek to jowl in no time. But self-indulgence was never the sole goal. I live on the main street in a sleepy little town with a steady promenade of dog walkers and joggers passing by. The garden was always meant for the community as well as my own edification. Every once in a while I’ll find a little marble or some other trinket of appreciation tucked into the beds left by an anonymous admirer, and it makes me happy to know it is being enjoyed.
When neighbors see me in the post office, they ask about the blue flower by the road. “You mean the delphinium?” I ask before handing them the catalog for perennials that I just pulled out of the post office box. I tie a ribbon around the deep purple poppy that the jogger complimented while huffing and puffing her way down the street. I’ll save seeds and surprise her with a packet later in the season.
I share advice on everything from ultra-hardy roses (own root David Austin types) to deer deterrents (Liquid Fence) while proceeding to work. I show neighbors heirloom flowers raised from seed that might not be highlighted at local nurseries. I regale them with the story of the ‘Old Cellar Hole’ phlox that never gets mildew. Sometimes passersby notice me at the local market (I’m the one wearing the mud-caked boots and grass-stained skirt). They shake their heads and cluck their tongues, “That garden is a lot of work.” Granted, my knees are permanently bruised. Absolutely, my nails are a wreck. But I beg to differ with them: Tending my garden is not labor.