This martagon lily is a very special plant in my garden. It was given to me by a long-time friend who has serious problems with her hands and can’t work in her garden any more. As as soon as I mentioned that I wanted lilies. she brought two types from her mom’s garden. They arrived the very next day after my casual request, dug out by her teen-aged son. It is a kindness I don’t forget. The bright, cheerful colour of this lily reflects the spirit of the gift and the long friendship.
Our neighbours were a little surprised when we moved into the neighborhood. For one thing, all our stuff came in a garbage truck – I became friends with a man who has a garbage removal company due to cleaning out my mom’s house for months on end. Then there were other strange habits: I never prune bushes. I don’t believe in the nice, neatly shaped balls that the old owner cultivated. They all looked exactly the same. This spring they rewarded me by exploding with flowers. For this Philadelphus, it’s the first time it has bloomed in decades.
This is a lily I bought in Safeway a few days ago. My husband took this picture and made it look like something Alfred Hitchcock would have used as setting in a horror movie. You can just see a shady character emerging through those lace curtains. Eventually, like most of the flowers I buy for the dining room table, it will end up in the garden. This flower will join a white lily that has survived a few winters. I hope it continues to live for may years in much less scary setting.
Something about the El Nino this year must have pleased peonies. I have never seen them so extravagantly happy. They form huge balls of Barbie pink. This summer’s peonies are like new-wave feminism: they wear their pink without shame and with distinction.
There is a lovely Pocket Park across the street from where we live that neighbours maintain. Twenty years ago there were thirty people coming out each week. In the last year since I joined the group there have been only five of us. We have formed a lovely friendship that crosses age and professional divides. This hosta is a gift from one of my community garden friends. I planted it last week and already it has grown twice it’s original size. It’s like friendship. Sometimes it takes years to call someone a friend and other times it takes one short summer of working on a community garden.
There must be something odd about the angle of the setting sun shining between trees on our street but almost every mid-summer evening a beam of sunlight shines on this coral bell. Its pink glows amidst the darkness. At first I thought it was a momentary accident of nature, but now we have come to expect this flower to take the stage during the summer solstice. It reminds me of prehistoric temples where on certain days of the year a beam of light shines through a dark temple hallway to illuminate a sacred object. This little coral bell has become such a marker of the seasons for us.
The garden is largely my project. My husband barely noticed that we had a garden until recently. So I don’t know what got into me, but a few years ago I randomly asked him to pick up a perennial on his trip to Home Depot. He came home with a goatsbeard. We planted it on the north side of the house where nothing grows and it flourished. This year it’s about seven feet tall! My husband is proud and delighted by his gardening prowess. For an amateur gardener a seven foot perennial is a true sign of latent talent.
Today was an intense and wonderful day. I did a clay workshop with children at a fundraiser. The kids were completely immersed in the art. We made houses with people, furniture and even gardens with swings. A few parents got upset as their children didn’t want to leave. I have to admit that I was fully on the side of the kids. It was magnificent to see them so immersed in an imaginary world. Yet, you can get really tired after spending all day with small children. Once home, I collapsed into a garden chair and just looked at these irises back-lit by the setting sun.
This is by far the most glorious time of the year. Almost every plant is in bloom and the garden glows with colour. It’s just like a Monet painting. One of the flowers he would have loved is bloodroot cranesbill. It forms hills of dappled pink in my garden: quick, fuzzy brushstrokes across a large canvas only in 3D!
The lilac bush in the forefront of this photo must have been planted when people were still skating on McKernan lake. (This pond was filled in right after the war.) Its trunk is so gnarled and open like a gargoyle that it’s hard to understand how this bush survives. I was tempted to cut it down but my daughter stopped me. She said that it looks like the “Secret Garden”. She is right. When I come in through the back gate this part of the garden is always in deep shadows. It makes me feel like I am entering a story book, only it’s my story and the story of our friends and family.