A garden is everlasting

Published 11:01 am Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Recently I had the privilege of enjoying some time alone reflecting in the gardens of a dear departed friend. Upon my arrival the grounds were impeccably manicured, the box woods and shrubbery finely trimmed and some in bloom. It made for a most pleasurable amble around the grounds.

I met my friend during the winter season of her years and did not have the opportunity to enjoy and share in her gardening prowess while she was still active and able.

I stood before the largest of her gardens, a square space surrounded by a perimeter of nicely trimmed boxwood. I was told she started every single one of them from a single snip of a parent boxwood, tenderly nurturing them over the years into the magnificent specimens they are today. I marveled at the sight of all the different plantings safely tucked into this garden bed, all thriving on their own and growing wild and abandoned. It was not what I had anticipated to find; nature stepped in and had taken over the task of tending all of its plants when the gardener was no longer able to do so.

There was absolutely no hardscaped delineation of space among plant varieties; the different plants seemed happy to be growing right up and into each other’s space. It was beautiful nonetheless.

I plucked a leaf or two from the Lemon Balm and pondered a moment while gently rubbing them together between my thumb and forefinger. The smell was wonderfully refreshing. I imagined what this garden may have looked like back in the day under the careful care and management of its precious gardener.

A glance across the way and a garden lantern catches my eye, keenly placed among a myriad of foliage and shrubbery. Then a demure gray sparrow perched on a hanging feeder in a small tree pulls my eye in another direction. I move on for a closer look. It occurs to me that my friend had a bit of whimsy in her heart, and I smile.

I make my way across the yard to the sunken water garden. The water garden has seen better days. The filter pump no longer runs and the sturdy rock sides have crumbled a bit over time. But the many water and bog plants have persevered. I take a seat on the bench next to it and ponder how this garden looked when all its parts were working and the beloved gardener tended to it. While I sat in deep thought admiring the plant life, suddenly I am startled by a sudden splash in the middle of the pond. A shiny green gray frog surfaces, it looks at me as if to say, “Why hello. It’s nice to see you. We have not had a visitor in some time.” Nature’s whimsy I think to myself, and I smile once again and feel my friend sitting next to me.

Gardeners have a special way of seeing the world around them. Most times they are content to enjoy the view that nature has provided them. On occasion they make small changes or add big additions to their surroundings. Always they instill part of their heart into everything they do and everyone they love.

Once planted, a garden is everlasting. First from the minds and in the heart of the gardener, then in the soil and of space it is planted and finally in the memories of those who loved the gardener.

A garden shall live forever, so plant it wisely.

Dawn Conrad is a columnist for The K-V Dispatch. She can be reached at Conrad.gardenmuse@gmail.com.