Saturday, June 5, 2010
Periods of Garden Passions by Penny Marshall
Picasso had a blue period but, not being too up on affaires d’art, I don’t know if he had other ones. As an extremely multifaceted and old individual (meaning lots of consuming interests but no single all-encompassing passion or talent over four score years) I have had many periods in many fields, often being deeply immersed in two at once, or, occasionally in productive, or just as likely, spread thin spells, in even three. With me, just because I’m not still deeply embedded in my “rhodie” period for instance, doesn’t mean I don’t have a good dirty-sneaker-clad foot in it, signifying ongoing curiosity and interest, and an ever-present book buying urge toward it. As someone said to me (somewhat scathingly I thought, c. thirty years ago) “My God, Penny, must you try to specialize in everything AT ONCE?” to which the answer appears to be, yes.
So at the moment I’m deep in an Amelia Peabody mystery period, a health conscious less-meat-is-more one, and I may be moving out of my big-time Trees period into a mixed Trees and stones-in-the-garden one. At the moment, my garden bears the traces of (I think) every one of my garden periods except the first - Sweet peas – one, and now that I think of it, that’s no good at all and must be remedied. Let’s hope Blackrock can help and if they can’t why, I ask you, NOT!/?
My sweet pea period began at c. age 5 when my mother, at my importunate, probably loud, begging, bought me a bunch of those intoxicatingly scented, deliciously colored glories at a Saturday morning Mennonite Farm Market in Hagerstown, MD, c. 1932. It wasn’t until 1937 when I was ten that I was able to plant my own bed of sweet peas, a thoroughly wasted endeavor as the garden plot assigned me by my hogging-the-best-places-for-gardens mother was in the very shady, three dog populated, fenced in dog yard in Fairmont, WV. Nothing even tried to grow or maybe the dogs “watered” them for me.
For my own and possibly Helene’s amusement (and maybe even yours) I’m going to list my garden periods in as close as I can come to the order in which they dawned. I enjoy looking back at my life almost as well as getting on with it, and garden periods (during a definable “period” the main garden budget, book buying/reading, curiosity, plant buying, seeking, learning and planting is focused on the named species) serve as handy pegs for happy memories as well as frustrating ones.
So, sweet peas. (Big skip while I grew up, passed through my sweetheart roses on the bosom and orchids on the wrist social life, and got a garden where I called the shots.) Then roses, peonies, iris, azaleas (hybrid and species), bulbs, woodland wildflowers, groundcovers, rhododendrons, ilex, magnolias, epimedium. Side skip to increasing emphasis on Maine garden as I moved from suburban NY. Then onward with rock gardening, hosta, old roses, coral bells, columbine and geranium (bundled together), lilacs, magnolias – again ( different garden), hydrangeas, variegated/colored foliage, alpines/troughs, shade plants, trees (especially Japanese maples), and (all blended in one and slowly coming up on the outside) stones, ferns, mosses.
Comment. Having a tree period after years of planting things and while enjoying soul satisfying ocean and (separate) pond views you wish to retain is Very Difficult. Think about it!
There is also a part of me that wonders if maturity, both of self and gardening talents, is necessary before moving “up” to trees or do some people come to trees earlier, possibly even start there? A suspicious but canny inner self wonders if it took a larger budget or more assurance that after all those years of growing smaller things I could succeed even with these important and expensive “biggies” that allowed me to move on to trees. Who knows? And, it turns out I don’t really care – I just enjoy speculating about things. Today’s biggest wonder - could I make a success of moss gardening? I’ve suddenly huge healthy patches all over the place, none planted, none planned, all unknown. But beautiful, velvety and (courtesy of changes in climate) thriving and, yes, even invading. Guess who needs a book on mosses to study!
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