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Friday, March 02, 2007

The Gift that keeps on giving

There's nothing like the gift of a plant from one gardener to another. I've had my own garden for 21 years now but can clearly remember those plants that were first given to me.

There was definitely a lesson to be learned. Some gardeners shared plants that were terribly invasive. Other gardeners gave the tiniest slips of plants that grew to be bed hogs. But for the most part, I found that gardeners are incredibly generous with the bounty of their garden and were glad to share not just plants but their knowledge too.

Although my parents enjoyed being outdoors and took us on many "nature" trips, they were not avid gardeners. As immigrants to this country they were quite busy working long hours trying to live the American dream. The first photo above shows one of the few plants I have from my Mom. She had a small town house garden just a few miles from me and gave me a piece of this yellow coreopsis 'Zagreb'.

Of course I left that piece in a plastic bag from the supermarket for a whole winter, along the shady side of my garage. Come spring I noticed growth coming out of that plastic bag and quickly (guiltily?) popped it into the garden. That might have been 7 or 8 years ago but since then I have potted up close to 100 pots of this wonderful perennial plus I have at least 5 or 6 mass plantings of it here. It truly was the gift that kept on giving.

As the years go by, and life grants us changes, our gardening friends change too. One friend of mine, Mary Kay, has a garden that's just chock-a-block full of delicious, hard to find plants. A few years ago Mary Kay invited me and my friend Kim to come get some Camassias. We didn't know what a camassia was and to be honest we eyed those scraggly leaves with some distaste. Still, I've rarely known Mary Kay to recommend something that didn't turn out to be fantastic so we took our baggies home and planted them in the garden.

The next May when our Camassias bloomed, Kim and I were in heaven. Our Camassias turned out to be these heavenly blue flowers that just knocked our socks off. This year will be the first that I have enough to take my gift and keep on giving.

Some plants come in a strange way. This sweet hardy Geranium was a tiny slip growing out of the crack of ground cloth at Fox Hollow Farm. One of the owners was walking by and I pointed out this teeny baby and recommended that it be dug up and potted. Guido told me that anything that was growing out of a crack was a weed and if I wanted it, I could dig it up myself.

You should see that massive weed when it's in bloom at the front of my driveway. It's awesome!

When I first joined the Long Island Daylily Society I made a whole bunch of new gardening friends. Most gifted me with lovely daylilies right from the start, but one woman, Judy Rocco, gifted me with many other plants. Judy also belonged to the Hosta Society and she made sure I had some Hosta to put in my new garden.

I had never seen Corydalis before my visit to Judy's and shamelessly asked for a piece. Judy was reluctant to give me one. Oh, she had plenty to share, she was just afraid that I'd end up with so much Corydalis all over that I'd be mad at her. Well, there's lots of Corydalis here but every extra piece I'm willing to part with sells out almost instantly at my spring plant sale.

Judy also gave me a piece of this yellow Sedum aizoon 'Lemon Snowflakes'. I wish I could let her know how well the plants she shared with me have done. Judy died of breast cancer just a few years after gifting these plants (and many others) to me.

In the front here you can see the pink evening primrose (Oenothera speciosa). A friend from many years ago, Mary, gifted me with this wonderful beauty. I have to admit I'm glad I was wary about the fact that she brought me several trays loaded with this plant. Only a few pieces were actually planted and at first I was quite annoyed that they wouldn't stay put. But they traveled south as far as they could go until they hit the block border along my driveway. There they stay and raise their darling faces to the sun and I just adore them.

I'm not one to grow something that only looks good for a short time period but these double bloodroot (sanguinaria canadensis) are so awesome that I don't care if I only get to see them for a few days. They were a gift from George Rasmussen, the famous daylily and hosta hybridizer.

Lately there's been a new kind of sharing going on here. My good friends Gianna and Richard are both plants-people extraordinare! Richard is a fountain of knowledge when it comes to trees and shrubs and he's been bringing me some amazing things to grow in my garden.

This stunning moon maple was a gift after my father passed away. My dad and I spent many hours wandering around the garden and talking about plants so I know he'd be pleased by this beauty.

This theme could go on and on, that's how many wonderful gardeners have shared plants with me. I thought I'd wrap it up with a close-up of the bloom on this breath taking Kousa 'Gold Star'. Being that it's a tree, it too was a gift from Richard.

In a few weeks I should be able to take a photo of the witch hazel bloom on my latest gift so stay tuned and stay green.

1 comment:

Gotta Garden said...

What a garden of memories you have! You are rich indeed!

I have some garden memory plants, but not nearly like you! I have also shared from my garden...but your post makes me think I could do better in that area.

The only daylily I have ever been given (other than a bonus with purchase) was a $5 one from the ongoing sale when I first joined NCDC. Well, I'm in a position now to be one who shares and this wonderful post reminds why I should.