Monday, February 21, 2011

Gardeners of "The Court" -- The Cycle of Life in the Garden

Garden as therapy
Membership in the unofficial garden club on the "Court" or cul de sac where we live is as precious as any professional affiliation.  A lawyer by trade, I am paid to "counsel," yet I often quietly marvel at the willingness of folks who pay me to listen, when what they really need is advice.  Not so with gardeners. 

Those bemused neighbors who track my burgeoning interest in plant cultivation, in addition to a helpful tip or two, have introduced me to the unique breed known as "gardeners."  Gardeners see beauty growing in places where others never bother to look--the crack of a sidewalk, beneath a crumbling overpass, or along a storm drain.  They understand the cycle of life. 

On my street, and I suspect most others, gardens serve as therapeutic incentives to keep going, instilling some normalcy when times get tough.  These cultivated patches of soil, window boxes, even containers on high-rise balconies reflect joys and sorrows, the good days, and those which are horribly bad. 

Lindsay's Annabelle Huydrangea
A few summers ago we watched helplessly as Ruth's beloved granddaughter struggled and then lost a brutal battle with cancer.  Ruth soldiered on, finding touching reminders of Lindsey in her surroundings.  That August Lindsay's Annabelle Hydrangea bloomed profusely,  a sweet reminder of a promising young girl. 

Gardening for sight impaired
Then there's Jane's daylilies.  Years ago, Ruth's childhood friend sent tubers from her yard in Iowa.  From time to time Jane and five other friends would come to visit, and compare theories as to why the silly plants wouldn't bloom.  Finally one year they bloomed as the six remaining friends gathered at the back window, admiring the yellow blooms and thinking of the special lady who had sent them. 

Next door, spunky Joann adapts her partial loss of eyesight not by gardening less, but BIGGER so that she can SEE the progress.  Uncomplaining, she tends to her yard regularly.  Rather than retreat, she converted a garage porch into a "potting room." 

Further up the Court the subtle reminders of legacy are reflected in the giant rhododendrum which nearly covers a widower's dining room window, and the variegated lilies that poke up in the corner of his lot. 
And, it's no coincidence that young girls are featured figures throughout our yard.  A tribute to two marvelous young ladies and the one in between who remains strongly in spirit. 

It's not all sad luck on the the "Court."  We have our environmentalist Steve whose spruces, and children, show promise.  Melissa and Jeff will have to empty out the red Radio Flyer carrying herbs to make way for their baby son.  Ruth moved on to a snappy new condo on a golf course, optimistically starting her garden from scratch.  The new occupant Mariette has turned the place into an elegant formal garden with paved paths and brick pillars.  Carol and her husband said goodbye to a giant oak and hello to a spectacular sun garden chock full of snapdragons, coneflowers, daisies and roses. 

Gardeners adapt and find peace in the cycles of nature.  We also celebrate the gift of knowing, and learning from each other. 

That's priceless.