Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Where was I……….? by KCB

KCB is a professional gardener and friend who does wonderful work in the Greater Portland area. KCB is also an accredited Master Gardener by the Cooperative Extension Service and we are honored to have KCB as part of our Skillin's Garden Log family!

Where was I……….?

I hope everyone had a great Leap Day. Being Irish I have the whole year to enjoy it…once every 4 years it is permissible for an Irish woman to ask a man for his hand in marriage. This should be an interesting year……..

Can you believe it is March? Yes, March. It seemed like only yesterday I was at the Skillin’s Open House in Falmouth! This year’s event was the best ever! Sally and crew could use a standing ovation! The place was alive. Tim over saw a magical landscape where once there was only concrete. I did all I could not to bury my face in the fresh mulch. That scent is so hypnotic! Another one to look forward to in Brunswick. (on March 29 and 30!)

This week’s magic will surely center around The Portland Flower Show. I am so excited that I’m already looking for a place to park. When you attend the Portland Flower Show bring along your camera and journals. What, you have not begun your Garden Journals? Oh, dear…. I have already entered the date I witnessed the Robin migration and the return of the Mockingbird.

So where was I?

How I came to be a gardener.

Fast forward to 1993 or was it ’94? Can you believe I can not recall the year we moved into our house on Munjoy Hill? It almost never happened except for a phone call that was answered by my husband. A friend of mine was getting married and his fiancé’ was selling her house. For what seemed like months my friend mentioned the house. He thought it would be perfect for my (former) husband and I. I never gave it much thought Ok, I did, ‘The Hill’ and the fact we weren’t financially ready did factor into it. Needless to say I never mentioned the house to my husband. One day as I walked into our kitchen, my husband was on the phone and gestured to me as he mouthed ‘What is this about a house? ‘A’ (friend) wants us to see it today before they sign with a realtor’.

I was caught. ‘A’ was speaking to my husband as if husband should know all about the house. I felt like I had my hand in a cookie jar. No worse, that I had come in past curfew with Cold Duck on my breath (not the fowl but the sickly sweet bubbly drink of my college days).

I had a lot of explaining to do on our way to see this house. Of course we couldn’t buy it. Nor did we expect to want to. ‘A’ was waiting for us, More explaining on my part. Just one look, was all it took. It was early May so all I really remember about the garden was that it was small and took up the whole front of the house. There were 3 ‘flowering bushes’ which I later learned were 2 small leafed Rhododendrons and one Azalea. The back of the house was some kind of tiered garden that could only be accessed through the basement. A pear tree poked above and could be seen from the front of the house. A garden? Perennials? Okay. I guess that is nice. It wasn’t the gardens that sold either of us. For husband it was the built-in bookshelves/entertainment unit. For me, the view. What better for a city girl then to have an unobstructed view of the city, Slightly to the left of the cityscape was Back Cove. ‘A’ mentioned on a clear day you could see Mt. Washington which we later learned to be the truth. Ah, but the best was yet to come. After our tour it was nearing 7 pm. The sun was preparing to set. The gentle melding of day to dusk called to me. Each and every sunset thereafter a symphony. I will miss that house forever.

When we moved in at the end of June everything was overgrown. The pretty bushes flowered no more; the tree in the front of our house was in bloom (a magnificent dogwood). Later this tree would litter our front walk with red prickly fruit that squished when stepped upon. I recently discovered that these fruits are sweet and may be used in a jam.

I was overwhelmed. I knew nothing. Friends were envious of the gardens and helped me sort through the weeds. Ok, they did the sorting while I sipped wine, the men drank beer and boasted about who could make the best burger. Food and plants would be their reward.

I couldn’t tell a weed from a peony except that the big plants in full bloom were called peonies. Imagine my surprise when these extra large shrub like plants (the peonies) once cut back would completely disappear over the winter. The next spring I was devastated that they didn’t return, until it was pointed out that the red little sprouts were my Peonies.

The next spring my husband and I attempted to weed. Still it was just too much. I wanted to sit on my deck, read, watch sunsets and, yes drink wine. Then something happened. Not sure why, what or how, but I started to notice. I noticed other peoples gardens, gardening magazines, my garden. I used my not weeding as an excuse to ‘see what happens’. With each new sprout, flecks of color and change in form, I was almost hooked. There still was this thing with dirt, crawly things and ruining a perfectly good manicure. Not to mention sweating and spending hours on my knees.

While walking around our neighborhood I couldn’t help but notice how people in these urban settings transformed minute plots of earth to lush slices of color. Little did I know, I was about to fall in love…with Cosmos? One gentleman had a 4’ X 2 foot plot full of them. Soon they were everywhere. We’d go for drives just too see gardens and within these gardens the elegant Cosmos. I loved the daintiness, how the blooms seemed to hover as if stem less. The way they moved with the slightest breeze. As I child I always asked for a corsage of ‘painted daisies’ for my piano recitals. The hot pink blooms reminded me of the flowers I so adored as a kid. Ironically, I hated the piano and suffered from extreme stage fright. I would persevere just to don a bracelet of pink.

Again, I am out of time. I also have a beautiful yet impatient dog that wants to show me her ball. A sure sign she must be taken out.

See you at the Portland Flower Show……

for Skillin's Greenhouses
March 5, 2008

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