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Sunday, February 17, 2008

The wait is over

Yesterday's post was a short one, I was filled with anticipation. You see, I was headed off to a garden club meeting. To be exact, yesterday I attended a meeting of the Long Island Daylily Society which meets every third Saturday, usually at Planting Fields Arboretum on Long Island (well Duh!)

If you've been gardening for many years then you probably have belonged to a gardening club at some time. Before the wonderful world of the internet, a garden club was one of the only ways to share gardening information with others who share the same obsession.

In my own case, the gardening craze came upon me fairly early in life. I had a day job chartering vessels for a German steel company that had an office here in New York. In my early 20's, I was surrounded by German immigrants, mostly older than me. One favorite past time at lunch time was to sit in the company cafeteria and talk about gardening. Many of the women would bring blooms in from their garden to decorate their desk.

Gardening was always something that interested me and as soon as we had our first house I was out in that garden so I really enjoyed those lunch hours. They also became my first experience with "pass along" plants as co-workers passed along slips of this and that for me to try.

After the birth of my daughter Lauren, I found myself missing those lunch hours and began to search for a garden club that would give me the same sense of camaraderie. It took a few tries before I found a fit. It's not that the clubs topic didn't interest me, it was the people in the club.

Two clubs have managed to capture my love. The first was a local federated club that goes by the name Nathan Hale Garden Club. It's a group of women (approx. 45) who meet one afternoon a month. Half the meetings are about flower arranging which doesn't really interest me but the women themselves have become dear friends so I suffer through those meetings ;-)

The second club that stuck with me was the Long Island Daylily Society. When I joined I only had 4 or 5 daylilies and didn't think I needed many more. Who would have guessed... that club became a driving force for many years of my life. It wasn't just women drinking from tea cups. There were men there that wore their gardening clothes to the meeting and didn't mind if their nails weren't manicured. While daylilies were the main focus, it was easy to make friends who grew wide varieties of plant material.

This club changed my whole life. I joined a fledgling internet group and although I knew nothing about daylilies I liked to write so I began to post. It wasn't long before I was invited to speak to another daylily club, this one in Florida! I had never ever spoken in front of a group of people before, it sure was an eye opener. After that, more doors opened and I traveled all over the USA and Canada meeting up with other garden lovers I had met on the internet.

In the summer of 06 I Co-chaired the national convention for the American Hemerocallis society. At the same time I was one of the 7 tour gardens so I certainly had my hands full. In total it was five years of planning, the last year I think all I did was eat and breathe for the convention.

In 2007 I started strong, I had a beautiful garden left over from the year before but the drive was gone. For so long I was driven by that one event. I knew that I wanted to decrease the amount of daylilies in my garden (there were about 450 different varieties here during the tour). Mother's Day weekend I have a plant sale, the profits are donated to the students in our high school marching band to help defray the costs of band camp. I dug like crazy last year leaving crater like holes all over the garden. The week after the sale it happened, I deflated, all the air just left me, the desire to garden was gone and I was left with a garden that looked like a bulldozer had run amok.

My posts to the various internet groups stopped at that time, my posts to this blog stopped then too. The weeds began to grow and I started averting my eyes every time I drove down the driveway past my long perennial borders. I secretly wondered if I'd ever get it back, the desire to garden.

The itch started before the holidays, I found it hard to pay attention to all I was supposed to be doing. It got worse right after New Years, I needed to be outside, no matter what the weather conditions were. Suddenly I found myself at the library several times a week pulling those gardening books off the shelves in attempt to find the ones with the most glorious photos. The notes to myself began to pop up all over the house, slides, photos, books strewn on every surface.
It was back, the desire to work in the garden has once again infected me.

Yesterday was the final test, I had only attended 3 daylily meetings last year and often didn't even open the meeting notices. Last week though I opened my notice on the walk back from the mail box. My family was warned, I was not going to be home Saturday afternoon.

The anticipation yesterday morning was almost too much to bear. No, there really was no river to drive over although a long stretch of the road passes water. The woods I drove through were cultivated, but still restful. Yet it was with trepidation that I walked through that final door.

The meeting was perfect. February weather is tricky so our clubs tradition is to hand the program over to club members this month. Three members got up to give us tips and ideas on how they grow things from seed. It was simple, smooth, warm and simple. I hugged old friends and even met a few new ones. Afterwards I stole five more minutes of time and ran into the greenhouse to breathe in the warm moist air and shoot a few "press here dummy" photos. Five of them are included in this post. I didn't bother with the plant names or description, it was the feeling of being in a garden that I needed at that time.

Sometimes when I sit here at this computer it seems as if I've unscrewed the top of my head and all kinds of things burble out. Today was one of those days, it's the best therapy around.

And still, the anticipation is there, the need to garden is overwhelming.

It feels so good to be back.


GardenJoy4Me said...

Melanie !
Thank you so much for suffering through my babble on Kingston : )
I have always had a problem parring down my assignments and it still shows ! LOL
My hubby is still involved with hockey as well .. he is head referee in his league and has a blast most times .. the times he gets shot with a puck and has the concussion thing happen .. well not so much then ? LOL

Your posts here are just beautiful ! ..
I love the pictures and I am jealous of the plants !
You answered a very key question for me in this last post .. I always worry "what will I do if I lose my garden fever??" ..
You have faced that wall and have come out on the other side .. and I am so glad you talked about it here .. thank you !
I think this stays as a life long love .. but like any love it has its "not so crazy about it times" .. no one really talks about it but I think we all suffer through a touch of it.
Some times when I look at other gardens that are so large .. have such beautiful landscaping and plants .. I think .. my god I have such a little garden and it looks so awkward ! how can I be so vain as to talk about it so much ? LOL
I know the heart of the matter is that we adore plants and nature and NOT to be competitive .. so I say that to myself a lot ! haha
Thanks again for your visit and your posts !
I'm glad you got the bug again !
Joy : )

Carol said...

Beautiful "point and shoot" photos and what a story. Who knows why the passion for gardening left, but it is good to read it is back for you again. I can't wait to get out into the garden again.

Marie said...

Beautiful, beautiful photos!

Melanie Vassallo said...

Joy, thanks so much for the kind words. Sometimes letting it all spill out is kind of like hanging your bras and panties out on a closeline in front of your house.

Carol & Marie, I'm glad you liked the photos. The green house is very small and there must have been a dozen photographers in there with thousands of dollars worth of camera equipment, tripods, light bouncers and everything. I felt kind of silly with my point and shoot camera but as you can see, it didn't stop me from taking a few photos.

Anna--Flowergardengirl said...

Melanie--could it be that it became a job rather than a refuge? It happened to me two years ago too. I lost interest cause of the expectations and stresses I was experiencing at the time. Hobbies that we enjoy should have the word enjoy before them. Sounds like it became an expectation---that is sad--but I sure understand. I do work in the gardening world--but it doesn't come home with me anymore. Sounds like you are an over achiever and got over achieved! Relax and love it this time. Only do what you want to and don't let it become a responsibility to others---let it feed your soul.

*Linnie* said...

SUCH beautiful photos...loved visiting!

Bloomin Designs said...

Enjoyed your story, and a warning - Anna is right. While I still enjoy spring time and cannot wait to start full time outside, now that it has become a job, by June it is not so much fun.