Maybe it was the black spider-like stamens on the red tulip, or perhaps the honey filled tips of the columbine. At eight years old there was one thing that made me happy, almost as much as kittens did, and that was flowers. I discovered iris’s that reminded me of ruffled satin slippers and lily of the valley with its fairy-like bell-shaped flowers and fragrance that still today remains a favorite. My childhood home, thanks to my grandma, was a virtual paradise of beautiful gardens. A recurrent dream of mine even now is to have a large field of flowers, filled with the flowers my grandmother grew, and in every room of my home–a vase of fresh cut flowers.
Eventually, as I grew up, I found my way to the lovely peony bushes where I hastily shook all the ants away. Only to receive a harsh scolding from my grandma about the peony needing the ants to help open its petals.
Around twenty I realized that I loved to be surrounded by beautiful things. Everywhere I’ve lived in the last twenty-five years, I’ve tried to recreate some of my grandmother’s gardens. I’ve planted many iris’s, and lily of the valley, antique roses, cosmos, and columbine. In our last home, my husband and I got cuttings from seven different lilac bushes in hopes of growing many shades of the beautiful lilac. When we left this home eleven years ago and moved temporarily into a small apartment, I found myself for the first time unable to grow a garden (space and location). I missed having flowers for our home and I surely missed the challenge of growing beautiful things. So, once a week when we’d go grocery shopping I would pick up a cheap and cheerful bouquet of flowers. And so the “habit” of having fresh flowers in our home every week was born. After about six months I noticed that deciding which bouquets to buy, preparing them for the vase, and then finding a place in our apartment that displayed them at their best, became a new interest of mine. The entire process slowly had become a part of me. I realized that studying flowers, dreaming of owning a cut flower farm, buying bouquets, and decorating with them made me happy. Flowers and gardening have become an integral part of my PTSD therapy. The challenges of gardening, believe it or not, have helped me immensely in dealing with anxiety.
My container garden this year–where my focus is to grow tomatoes to perfection! Along with the tomatoes, I am currently growing Spanish lavender, French lavender, a lime coleus, red geraniums, prairie grass, a fuschia, hens and chicks, and rosemary.
Another project I’ve taken on in the past ten years has been traveling to, photographing, and identifying meadow/prairie flowers. Doing this has really been a past time of mine for more than thirty years, but just recently I have begun to photograph my finds. My husband and I routinely visit a nature refuge that has many wildflower meadows. I’m able to find and photograph many native flowers and plants like the wild blue lupine, wild yellow asters, coreopsis, and the wild rose.
As for ever having a cut flower farm–well, maybe someday. Until then I live vicariously through Erin Benzakein of Floret Farms (WA), Farmgirl Flowers CA), Sunborn Gardens in Mt. Horeb WI (local to me) and Cathy in Iowa–also known as Miss Effie @Miss Effie’s Diary.
I’ll leave you with a favorite poem of mine–
Robert Frost- Flower Gathering