My circumstances haven’t allowed me to garden at the house in Enfield at all for almost 2 years. It’s just one of those things I’ve had to let go (to some extent). The gardens all need to be dug up, cleaned up, replanted – not unlike what happened in Rowe last year.
There is a perennial bed as you drive up our driveway into the back yard that is divided down the middle with a chain link fence. More than a dozen years ago my elderly neighbor, Lucille, tended a perennial garden on the other side of the fence. Her gardening style was very similar to mine and we would spend time almost every day working in our gardens and swapping war stories over the fence. We each grew different things but in the summer our gardens melded together into a huge, beautiful space.
A couple of years into our shared garden experience Lucille passed away during the winter. It was a sad time anticipating what spring would mean for a gardener whose other gardening half would be missing. The space was so large I knew that I would just have to let it go. Her daughter was not a gardener. She appreciated the beauty of the garden but did not have the patience or the knowledge to maintain what was there.
That spring, about this time the weeds were running rampant on the other side of the fence but in my garden columbine was blossoming all over the place. I’d never planted them, they’d volunteered. Lucille’s had jumped the fence and decided it was where it wanted to be. We all know this happens in perennial beds, plants seem to move themselves around until they are comfortable where they are.
I was in Enfield this past Tuesday. My perennial bed sort of looks like Lucille’s did the year after her death. Overgrown, saplings of all sorts springing up everywhere. I got out my lopping shears and cut them all down – knee-deep in familiar but overshadowed plants. I piled high the remains of my clippings to be moved to our mulching space, such as it is, next to the barn. I gathered the piles and walked to the mulch pile and was delighted to see Lucille’s columbine blossoming away on the edge of the pile. It’s been over 12 years since Lucille saw her columbine.
I give a lot of things away from my garden, and have over many years. I don’t remember who I’ve given things to. It always seems like an act of desperation finding homes for things that are overgrown but I know to be beautiful. I love the plants in some of my gardens because they remind me of the people I have received them from – today I realized there are people who probably think of me when things bloom. How nice.