Many years ago I was blessed with a garden design client who could not see. I learned so many lessons from her that impacted my designing career that even today her gifts still come to mind. With her treasured touch and smell Mrs. Lovejoy's lessons still explode. With her precious gifts in mind I introduced her to the color red of the Beebalms, given that one of her wishes for the garden was to encourage hummingbirds. Even more to the point, walking adjacent to the garden plot while reaching down and touching, like she did for everything, it's square stems and coarse leaves, she loved to sit in the afternoons and wait for the flutter of her fast little friends, she never missed a one. To the point, touching the leaves she could also tell if staking or water was needed. Around her wishes I built a world of color and scents. Many of the plants like the taller gray Artimisias as well as the mired of new daylilies and century lilies added not only a hardy contrast of color, fragrance and textures, they added the hum of bees that she could hear long before anyone else could.
She was so precious to me that I soon learned that no one had ever thought of bringing her enjoyment of foods to her world and garden until I arrived. With a horde of different cultivars of onions, and an assortment of different parsleys, basils and thymes, her world came to life as she enjoyed an entire new world of flavors that she never knew existed before. They weren't just potatoes or simple squashes on the table anymore, they were herbed squashes and potatoes. No longer were salads just salads as she entertained friends, they were an explosion of flavors, to the point where she no longer bought dressings, instead she mixed her own personal delights.
Paramount to her was that the gardens not only were easy to take care of, they also had to flower all season long. This is where my skills kicked in. She was able to not only enjoy her garden all season long from spring to fall, Mrs. Lovejoy was able to share it with her sighted friends, not so much amazing them, but sharing with them what they missed by not including color, texture, and fragrance into every garden.
One evening sitting with Mrs. Lovejoy enjoying her mint tea, she mentioned that she especially loved the fresh tender smell in June and again in August when the local farmers mowed their fields. With that in mind wanting to make another element important I went ahead and planted creeping thyme in the lawn area so that when the landscaper came Friday evenings to mow her grass, she could enjoy the added fragrance. Such a marriage went on for years as even more ideas came to the forefront. Her gardens weren't just gardens any more, they were an extension of her, just as our gardens should be an extension of who we are, to be enjoyed and shared.
Master gardener and writer Harrison Wood will be helping out at the Historical Society garden sale on Saturday. Stop by to see him and get some gardening advice.