Remember the whimsical art of Mary Englebreit with captions such as “Bloom Where You Are Planted?” The image (which I don’t have permission to use here, but you can Google it) came to my mind as I was thinking about gardens I’ve seen and then about my own, which is far from you see in the magazines. It’s a “work in progress” I keep telling myself. Anyway, the notion of ‘blooming where planted’ resonates with me. So often we start off with the ideas of what we have to have, work like mad to get it, only to find later that we don’t need it as much as we thought we did.
When I was in college I lived on the 3-acre remains of an old farm in Walnut Creek CA. with college room-mates. We had goats, chickens, and a very large vegetable garden. I was 19 years old and thought for sure that one day I’d have 20 acres and be one of those organic gardeners living the dream in my Birkenstocks and long skirts. The goats were mine and to this day I have a special fondness for goats. But you know what they say about life getting in the way of plans. I ended up moving to London for a year to live with my grandmother. Living there introduced me to the “English perennial border.”
We lived near Kew Gardens so I was able to wander there quite a lot. I went to the Chelsea Flower show although back then it was not the event that it is today. And then I returned home, finished college, got a job, got married, and gardened where ever we rented. For a few years I was able to take night classes in horticulture at Merritt College in Oakland which only whetted my appetite for plants.
After our son was born we made the choice to leave family, friends, and jobs behind and move up to WA state. We rented a dreary little house on a bramble filled field of sorts and lived off our savings while my husband looked for a job. It was a challenging time. The economy was not the best and I remember eking out a few dollars for daffodil bulbs, I was so desperate to have something cheerful to grow. It was tough to put dreams on hold, and tough to learn how to bend with events.
Thirty years and two houses later I’ve figured out a few things. Not only will life events throw a curve ball in those garden dreams but so will terrible soil, invasive Himalayan blackberry bramble, that creepy invader ivy, difficult slopes, and crazy neighbors who spray Round-up on your plants (yep, happened to us). And of course, lack of funds! It is what it is for most of us but with some resourcefulness we can work around those challenges. I think we’re all called as stewards to take the tumbledown, derelict, and neglected and bring it all back to life.
I hope for all of you that 2019 will be a year of making garden sanctuaries no matter how humble or grand.
A few weeks ago I wrote about posting a note in my neighborhood Next Door website to get local gardeners together for an informal meet up at Marcell’s Pie Shop. We had several interested people turn up, and lots of conversation. One request that came out of the group was to start a Facebook Group page and so I have done just that. It is called Gardening in the ‘Couv; Vancouver WA USA. The focus is on gardening in urban/suburban Vancouver. All in “the “Couv” are welcome from novice to experienced gardeners, and especially those who are thinking they might like to garden but don’t know where to start. We’ve all been there, yes?
Our next garden meet-up is Sunday, January 6 at 3 PM. Location is again Marcell’s Pie Shop, 3100 Columbia in the Carter Park neighborhood. We have an area reserved for us so bring your catalogs, books, seeds, and what ever you may want to share.