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the daily gardener blog

garden stories

I don’t remember spring in my grandfather’s garden. I can clearly see the hyacinths, the lily of the valley, the pansies, but I don’t remember spring. Time in my grandfather’s garden was set to perpetual summer.

All I remember is warmth and sunshine, thunderous summer downpours, the coos of the doves. There was no patch of small and helpless seedlings, no spent spring bulbs to dead head, no overgrown bushes. It looked as if someone gathered each flower at the peak of its glory and put them together in an enchanting collage.

In my grandfather’s garden roses never got black spot, the grapevine that leaned against the north wall yielded generously and moss roses brightened up the shade. Lily of the valley and Saint John’s wort bloomed at the same time, mums were always perennial and the hibiscus trees basked in everlasting bloom.

I said many times that children don’t question their environment. Now I know that moss roses need full sun exposure, as do grapes, and no matter how well intentioned you are, the roses will occasionally get some sort of ailment. Most definitely lily of the valley blooms in May and Saint John’s wort on the saint’s feast day at the end of June.

My question is how? How did he make moss roses bloom in the shade when I can barely get zinnias to perform in full sunlight? Gardening is such an underappreciated art form! When done well and with real talent it seems effortless, it seems as if the perennial flower beds just take care of themselves and the person in the wide brimmed hat is there only as an uninvolved observer. One doesn’t see the work behind that effortless beauty, the love, the steadfast dedication, the living touch that made everything glow and thrive.

I have been gardening for fifteen years now. I’ve learned some lessons, I felt the joy and wonder of undeserved profusions of flowers, I choked down the disappointment of repeated unsuccessful endeavors. My grandfather was a gardener for sixty years, so it seems I have ways to go, still.