Monday, June 29, 2009

Are Our Gardens Like Our Friends?

I'm off for a few days to spend time with my cradle buddies - two women whom I don't really recall ever meeting. I don't remember the first time we played. I don't remember when they spent the night at my house for the first time. We have just known each other forever -- since we were in the cradle.

With these two pals, I am my true self, comfortable, confident, funny -- at home. These two grew slowly over time into mature, healthy friendships. They do not need daily or even regular communication to make them strong, just a little nurturing once every year or so. They are not like some friends that wonder why you haven't called or emailed in six whole days, or who don't know why I left Texas or how many brothers I have, or who want to talk too much about school, kids, carpools.

I wonder, are our gardens like our friends?

My garden was feeling a little crowded, so last weekend I dug a new bed near my perennial "test" garden and transplanted some day lilies. My perennial garden needs lots of regular, boring maintenance work. Dead head, thin, cut back, water, fertilize, pull some weeds, re-edge the border, pull more weeds, water, fertilize. Beautiful, but not for long without more attention from me. I'm working in more multi-season perennials, with variable bloom times, and pulling out those that just don't perform. Oftentimes, I squeeze in a new plant here and there to see how it blends with others, how long it will last, if it likes being in my garden.

One of my favorite spots, though, is an old garden bed I started not long after we moved into our house. It's shady, under an old dogwood tree, full of perennials and small shrubs that bloom at different times of the year. Some of the perennials are evergreen, some start perking up in early spring, some peak in late summer. As fall begins, they turn into a carpet of golds, reds and oranges. Like a dear old friend, it's my favorite garden to tend, yet it needs very little tending.

I have some wonderful friends in my everyday life. We've not known each other for too long, but with some attention, our friendships will continue to bloom. With some, our commonalities of school, kids or work will dwindle and as such our friendships. Every now and then, I find myself weeding out an acquaintance or two who might not fit. And I feel lucky to have a few who are working their way towards old shade garden status.

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