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Green Acre #214: How Green Is My Garden

No riotous colors, the garden, shady most of the year, looks to inanimate objects for a lively punch or two (but check out those caladiums, bottom right). / Photo by Stephanie Cavanaugh.

WHILE I HAVE occasionally been accused of blathering on about nothing every week, sometimes I’m hard pressed to do so. 

Usually, I have no trouble dredging up something to say, a knack developed when Baby was in fourth grade, or was it fifth? Her wonderful teacher, Della Spradlin, had the class keep a journal, every week turning in a folder of writing. About what, it didn’t matter, they just had to write. Baby, who preferred lying in the grass and counting butterflies to doing most anything, was not getting with the program. 

So I’d set us down at the dining table with a stack of paper and pens and we’d take turns picking an object in the room to write about. I’d set a timer for five minutes and off we’d go, pens moving nonstop, wherever the words led. By year’s end we’d both amassed files of . . . words. Curious little stories, mine always looking back, to what things meant to me or reminded me of. Hers, containing no memories yet, moved in more fantastical realms. She got an A. 

A fine Covid exercise, if you’ve got a kid around. 

That was an aside.  

This morning. Pressed up against deadline and fallow-brained, I asked the Prince, who happened to be skidding past my office door: “What did you like most about the garden this year?”

“Those big-leafed plants,” he said.

“Which ones? The elephant ears?” 

“Yeah, and what’s that big thing in the corner?”

“The Bird of Paradise?”

“Yeah. I like thinking I’m someplace else, the tropics, the bubbling water in the pond, it’s like being in another world. It’s so green.” 

Green was pretty much it this year, the kwanzan cherry has spread like a gigantic umbrella, spanning the air space, leaving dribbles of sunlight in patches here and there. The garden will only grow darker in years to come, leaving most summer color up to the accessories—the salmon pink of the chairs in the path, the Caribbean blue of the antique garage door with its arched windows. That small building at the end of the pebble path through the garden looks as inviting as a country cottage. (Just don’t open the door.)

The ferns have been fine. I love the way they spill over the flagstones that edge the pond, the way the Boston ferns dangle from the rose of sharon. They need to be dug and divided; they add such a lovely lightness and texture. The hydrangeas have also done very well, surprisingly colorful still. Next year I’ll plant more caladiums—what a bright spot they’ve been, hot pink leaves delicately veined with pale green continuously sprouting and unfolding. They do surprisingly well in flower arrangements too, hanging in for at least a week. 

Despite the darkness of the summer garden, the cherry is usually a little late to leaf out, so we do enjoy a fine spring, with tulips and a couple of climbing roses that manage to straggle up to reach the sun.  

The air is growing crisp. It’s about time to pack it in, move the pots of tropicals to the greenhouse and plant the tulip and allium bulbs under patches of pansies and ornamental cabbages to brighten the spirit.     

There. And I thought I had nothing to say today. 

—Stephanie Cavanaugh

LittleBird “Stephanie Gardens” is colorful all by herself


4 thoughts on “Green Acre #214: How Green Is My Garden

  1. judith capen says:

    Some garden! Always a wonder. Hi to baby and the prince!

  2. Equally surprised that anyone had anything to say about what I said. Thank you for enjoying my ramble.

  3. Bonnie Mitchell says:

    Ditto Maggie!

  4. Maggie Hall says:

    I’m always so impressed by how you find something to write about–and always in a way to grab and hold attention. The true–and enviable–talent of a real writer.

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