I need bright colors and fragrances and miniature houses for fantasy.
I planted tulip bulbs and mums, almond trees, lilacs, and weeping cherries in yards no longer mine. My bleeding heart in Minnesota grew to a bountiful, huge bush. Neighbors asked me for slips from the plant. Some may flourish still.
In the northern states, I loved to watch the crocuses come up, then the daffodils. I’ve named tulips as my favorite flower. They are the first intense multi-colored swaths of spring, but I don’t know if I play favorites. The irises are so showy, with rich varieties as if the fashion plates of flowers.
I moved to the fecund growing climate of Oregon several years ago. This is the first spring I can plant. I asked for this ground-floor apartment in my complex. It is a hidden patio apartment at a dead-end. The manager said I could plant, but the plants don’t belong to me. But they never have been mine.
The sun hits here a few hours mid-day.
I have tilled the square patch of dirt and bought plants that love shade.
I have coral bells and a rhododendron, ferns, and a bleeding heart. Dianthus and ground covers will come later. I want color and fragrance and a little oasis in the shade. Maybe, later, I’ll look at hosta. I’ve never loved hosta, but I always had a sunny garden. One can learn to love the things that grow in shade.
I have friends who are master gardeners. I am not. I plant low-maintenance perennials. I love to tour gardens, and marvel at the gardeners who planned for height and blooming season and color and pattern and foliage and texture and all the calculus that goes into planting a great garden.
I love white gardens, though I have never had one. I have a beautiful bouquet of white roses on my desk, as I write this story.
I will buy more herbs at the farmers’ market. I have pots with rosemary and basil and parsley. I need to pot some mint, so it behaves and doesn’t spread, and a tomato or two.
So, the analogies are all here, aren’t they? We plant for others to enjoy, people we will never know. We have to change from full sun to shade and adjust our expectations for flowering and fruit.
I want to buy or make some little houses for a fairy garden, for my grandchild. Or for me to enjoy with my grandchild.
No matter what else is going on in the rest of life, talking about planting brings me joy.
Even in the shade.