May 25th, 2012

Our Life in Gardens

by Mary Gray
blog-mary-gray-050812

“We gardened as if we would be there forever, in an immediate pleasure in the moment that seemed to imply an inexhaustible future. Little of what we did there then remains, though the daffodils must, and that thought is very pleasant to us.”

Joe Eck and Wayne Winterrowd
Our Life in Gardens

I came across this quote today and I know it is going to be haunting me for days and weeks to come. Only a select few gardens are preserved and maintained after their owners pass on. Since we know our gardens will almost certainly change beyond recognition once we leave them, in what other ways can we leave a garden legacy? Photographs? Diaries? Teaching? Writing? Seed saving?

How do we leave traces of our passion?

blog-mary-gray-2-050812This is a picture of my grandfather, who grew wonderful flowers and vegetables in his small urban lot in Detroit. It was taken in July of 1959. He died long before I was born. A few years ago I asked my mother what kinds of flowers he grew. “Hmmm, roses and peonies. Oh and dahlias, I think,” said my mother.

At the time I thought: too bad, those aren’t really my thing.

But in April of this year I found myself curiously, unexpectedly, drawn to roses. In April I planted a bareroot ‘Therese Bugnet’ in my side yard. And I’ve been pausing over the dahlia pages in nursery catalogs.

The garden is a habitat of mighty forces, and I’m not just talking about photosynthesis.


Mary Gray is a teacher, writer, and gardener from Burke, Virginia. She holds a certificate in Landscape Design from The George Washington University and works as a freelance garden designer and coach in the Metro DC area. She loves to muse about gardening, design, and the environment on her blog, Black Walnut Dispatch.

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