Thursday, March 13, 2008

How I Got Started.

Both my grandmothers gardened in their own way.

One had a wild-and-woolly garden where annuals sprung up every season among large patches of perennials. As a youth I learned very few of the names, but loved to hide beneath the enormous sweeping arms of an
unpruned forsythia shrub, right next to the self-perpetuating Black-Eyed-Susan patch. Her garden was for hiding, crawling, exploring, and climbing the sour cherry tree each summer.

The other garden was manicured, unspoiled by "weeds", tended daily, and was the epitome of the Midwestern combination of groomed lawn with annual and perennial flowers, shrubs, and vines. I worked in this garden with grandma
Kourik to gather the dew-laden flowers to be prepared for drying. With a gentle breath we scattered the dew. Some flowers were carefully covered in sand and slowly dried in the oven. Others were layered with borax and left on a ledge near a sunny window. After carefully shaking the sand or borax off each perfect blossom, they were arranged like a flower bouquet and placed beneath a convex case of glass surrounded by an ornamental brass rim. Flowers under glass for prosperity These we sold like a little cottage "industry" for spending money. But I kept many.

Now, some 50 years later; those kept out of direct sunlight still shine with their true colors. Each pansy still revealing their mixture purple petals above and yellow petals streaked with tan below. The others have shifted to a gradient of tans and browns with hints of blue, amber, and yellow. I wrote a book (
The Lavender Garden) in 1998. A few years later I was riffling through my collection of dried-floral bouquets and found one with five sprigs of lavender gracefully arching toward the rim of the glass. The scent of lavender that lingered deep within my brain began to flourish in the 1970s when I started planting them in drought-stricken gardens I maintained - and where there were interloping deer. As in Jitterbug Perfume, (by Tom Robbins) my olfactory memories gradually awakened as I began my love affair with lavender in my 20s. The roots of my gardening linger in the distant past. (Well, not that distant, only 50 years.)

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