Lark Ascending: Getting back to the garden
I keep wondering how our garden back in Breckenridge is doing.
Alan and I are away for a few weeks in Maine. Before we left Breckenridge, we tidied up everything inside and out — cleaning and vacuuming the house, mowing the lawn, weeding the flowerbeds. The daffodils were fading, but the tulips were still blooming in red, pink and yellow. In the days leading up to our departure, we checked the thick bunches of irises three times a day, hoping the purple blossoms would unfurl before we departed. Right before we took off, one did.
When I first moved to Breckenridge five years ago and moved in with Alan, I didn’t even notice the flower gardens. And Alan, apparently, had not noticed them much either because the following spring the melting snow revealed three plots that were mostly messy patches of weeds.
All that changed in July of that year, after we visited gardens around homes in Frisco, Keystone and Breckenridge during the Summit County Garden Tour. In Frisco, a miniature outdoor train track ran through a forest of allium, lilies and globe flowers. In Keystone, we toured gardens surrounding grand houses filled with daisies, yarrow, black-eyed susans and flowers of every color that I never learned the names of. Up in Breckenridge, at a big, pine-shaded home, we were treated to the spectacle of thick multicolored groves of columbine.
I was overwhelmed by the enormous variety and complicated requirements of all the different plants. Alan was energized.
We began digging out our grass-and-weed invaded flowerbeds. We kept a few scraggly clumps of bachelor buttons and two poppy plants but not much else. While Alan concocted mixtures of peat moss, manure and dirt, I dug out clumps of daisies and yarrow from the backyard to be replanted into the newly prepared flowerbeds. We took multiple trips to Lowes and Neils Lunceford for fancy things like day lilies, globe flowers and unusual colors of columbine. Neighbors shared plants they were dividing up from their own gardens.
My birdfeeders were banished to another part of the yard, since seeds scattered by the birds were attracting ground squirrels. Luke, our lazy dog, got his marching orders, too. No more napping on the lawn! Time to get busy chasing chipmunks.
As the years have gone by, our garden has become an ongoing project, continuing to grow and evolve. What I like about having a garden is its presence in our lives, the way it pulls you outside to see what new might be happening and to pay attention to small things. One day, in spring, as the snow begins to melt, we notice tiny, delicate green leaves are miraculously spearing through the iron-hard, frozen dirt. And having a garden creates the opportunity for us to have a morning and evening ritual — Let’s go see what might be happening in the garden. Look, something new is coming up! — leading in a meandering way to conversations about other things going on in our lives.
For Alan and me, when we first started dating, talking about the garden was a way to talk about our future. We hoped what we were planting that summer and fall would blossom in the years to come. Happily, it did, and our garden became the surroundings where we welcomed friends and family for our wedding ceremony last summer.
Now, on vacation in Maine, I keep thinking about our garden back home.
Finally, I get in touch with my neighbor, Angela. “Could you stop by our house and send me some photos of the garden?” I text her.
In the photos she sends, the lawn is now about two feet high. In the garden, bachelor buttons are bursting up everywhere, columbines have escaped the boundaries of the flowerbeds and the weeds, especially, are doing great.
It will be nice to get back to the garden and start putting things in order.
This year, the Summit County Garden Tour will take place Saturday, July 20. For tickets and information, go to SummitCountyGardenClub.org/tour/tour2019.php.
Christina Holbrook’s column “Lark Ascending” publishes biweekly in the Summit Daily News. Holbrook writes about life in the mountains, from the beauty of the natural surroundings to the quirkiness of friends and neighbors to what makes a good life. She moved to Breckenridge in 2014 and is the author of “Winelands of Colorado.” Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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