I have always aspired to be a gardener. Not just a “pop a few annuals by the front door and call it a day” gardener, but a true green thumb. Someone whose home is featured on local garden tours or who volunteers their talents throughout the community as a master gardener. I know, I know…I aim high!
So last spring, I began my quest for the perfect garden. My goal was an English country house aesthetic. (Think Downton Abbey-esque stately manner surrounded by gently rolling hills and groves of trees accentuated with lush flora and fauna…minus the manor, hills, and trees.) My landscaper created a bed in front of the house and helped me with the larger items. To assuage my OCD, I knew that I needed a symmetrical design. We started with some shrubs to fill in the space; two snowflake viburnums, two scarlet azaleas, and two Knock Out rose bushes. Nestled front and center among them, my pièce de résistance Crepe Myrtle. Although these beauties took up some of the space, there was still quite a bit left for me to fill in.
I did my research regarding what should be featured in an English garden. Although some blooms aren’t readily available on this side of the pond, I set about finding those that were. To provide height, I called upon delphiniums, foxgloves, phlox and daylilies. For ground coverings, I selected hostas, ferns and bugleweed. A butterfly bush not only attracts pollinators, but also provides a lovely fragrance. My highly discriminating selection process for the remainder of the space utilized one of three qualifiers. To be considered for inclusion, one had to be aesthetically pleasing, inexpensive, or have a name that made me giggle. Hence my purchase of St. John’s wort, Betty White bacopa, and more lantana than I knew what to do with. ($1.00 on the clearance cart at Lowe’s…who knew!)
The recent quarantine afforded me time to not only further fill in my existing flower bed, but also create some new ones. I found solace spending my days in nature creating beauty during such a turbulent time. I experimented with new plants and locations. Overgrown cypress bushes that lined my driveway were replaced with Dragon’s Breath celosia and Flame Thrower coleus. Hostas that burned under the intensity of the sun in the front yard are thriving in the shade that the back of the house offers. The bird bath from my childhood home holds a place of honor amid balloon flowers and vinca vines. Wow…I really sound like a gardener!
By its very nature, gardening tends to be a solitary activity. As I passed the hours digging, planting, and mulching, I couldn’t help but reflect upon the life lessons that plants and flowers offer us. In friendship, we should be able to bend like the reed in compromise rather than break like the tree branch in severity. In love, we should possess the forgiveness of the perennial that, even after the harshness of winter, will return each spring and strive to reach its full potential. In business, we should have the tenacity of the weed. And, just like the hosta, we should always remember that sometimes a change of scenery is all we need to flourish!