Tuesday, October 10

A Gardener's Generosity... and Beauty

My friend Dave is a great guy... and he and his wife Wendy have a beautiful garden. Dave doesn't mind when I pick his brain about how to grow something new to me, or when I lecture him about growing roses organically. (Outside of rose spraying, he's an organic gardener.) When I think of Dave, I think of a beautiful, generous spirit. He's the kind of person that you can't help but smile at, even on a bad day.

I'm a gardening infant in comparison to Dave, and I fear that our relationship hasn't been much of an even exchange. Because of that, I was excited when he seemed so delighted at my offer of a hydrangea a few weeks ago. He had killed one off early in his long gardening career and never got around to putting another one in... and I had one that just wasn't happy in my sandy, dry soil and wasn't about to be coddled by me. It needed a better home.

I dropped it off after work on Monday, and couldn't help turning a little green with envy at all of the color Dave and Wendy still have in their garden. They grow marigolds, zinnias and dahlias throughout their veggie garden so that these annuals can take over once the produce is done. All that color is so dazzling in the fall that you don't even notice the bare ground where tomatoes once sprawled.

True to form, Dave wouldn't let me leave without filling my giant container in turn. When I protested that I didn't want to raid his flower garden, he observed that they would all die in the temperatures predicted for the end of this week anyway and kept cutting. When I commented that I didn't have enough vases for all of them, he said that water glasses would do just fine and kept cutting. When I asked if he and Wendy had enough flowers for bouquets of their own he said that their house was full, they had sent loads of flowers home with their kids and grandkids over the weekend, and there were still plenty more in the garden. And he kept cutting.

I wanted to be both grateful and gracious, so I decided to stop protesting and enjoy what he was so happy to share. I ended up getting 4 arrangements out of the cuttings: a crystal bowl full of marigolds cut short and packed tightly, a milkglass pitcher with yellow dahlias and red marigolds (my favorite of the 4, which you see above), a huge white dahlia in its own antique bottle, and a plain glass vase full of bright zinnias and lavender dahlias.

The flowers will probably last for a week or so in their vases, but the beauty and generosity of the gardener will stay with me for a lot longer. As I arranged, I had visions of surprising coworkers, friends, and favorite neighbors with bouquets next summer. I want to be as abundant and generous in my gardening as my friend Dave. I think that I can get there someday--it just may take me a little bit of work. Dave, on the other hand, makes it look so effortless.


Anonymous said...

For me one of the greatest gardening pleasures is giving away produce to anyone who appreciates it. That's a great display of end of season colour. I should plan more to try and get that!!!

Annie in Austin said...

What a cool story, Kim! Two really nice people doing good things for each other, and some wonderful photos to celebrate the sharing.

My dahlia attempts have been pitiful in TX. The little border zinnias do well, so after reading this, I guess I'll try some cutting varieties next year.

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Anonymous said...

I would love to be that kind of gardener someday, too. Thanks for sharing this :-)

growingagardenindavis said...

What a great collection of beautiful flowers! And what a nice story...gardeners really are the nicest people!

Kristin Ohlson said...

What a lovely story. And, of course, gorgeous photos. Glad I stopped by.

Alice said...

Lovely story, Kim. You worry that your gardening relationship is not on equal terms and that Dave gives far more than he receives from you? I'll bet he doesn't see it that way. He and Wendy sound like true gardeners and nothing thrills them more than seeing a new gardener grow in experience and pleasure in this wonderful pastime.

It is never a chore to spend time encouraging and helping a new gardening learn about plants, especially one so interested and appreciative as you.

Often the greatest thanks you can give someone who is offering to share their produce is to accept their gift graciously, without feeling the need to match it. You will find as time goes on that you will have more things that Dave and Wendy will be happy to receive from you, as in the case of the hydrangea. Most gardeners LOVE cuttings and seeds, etc. especially of plants they haven't got. I hope you all have many years of sharing all that gardening has to offer.

Unknown said...

John, that's exactly what I thought! The end of season color in his yard was unbelievable.

Annie, I think he's going to give me some of the dahlias next year--I've never had luck with them before, either. Might have been my half-assed attempts, though.

Colleen and Leslie... thanks, and thanks for stopping by!

k-oh Thank you for stopping by--glad that you enjoyed the story. :)

Alice, you're exactly right about accepting gifts graciously. It's something that I've never quite been as good about as I would like to be... I think that my silly pride gets in the way... but I am working on. I am (and will probably always be) a work in progress... :)

Doug Green said...

You know gardening really isn't "effortless" - it's a heck of a lot of work. It only appears effortless when it's done in harmony with the place. When it feels "right". And in those moments, it is effortless. Doug

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