How does your garden grow?

How does your garden grow?

By G. S. Norwood

How does your garden grow? I am not a master gardener, but I love tending a garden. I am not a practical gardener, but I love to have flowers around me. I am not a prize-winning gardener, but I deeply prize my time in my garden.

the photo shows colorful flowers in G.'s front garden bed.
Flowers and decorative plants in the border of G.’s front garden bed. (Photo by G. S. Norwood)

From the time I was a tiny child, toddling around in my sister’s footsteps, I have loved gardens.  Our mother had beautiful iris in a flower bed in front of our house, and forsythia bushes that turned to gold every spring under our bedroom windows.  Out back we grew radishes and lettuce and corn in the summer.

As an adult, I began to realize that flowers bring great stories with them, which are almost as delicious as their scent.

Memories

First, of course, are the memories.  I have iris in my garden because I loved my mother’s iris so.  I don’t think she brought along any rhizomes from the iris I grew up with, as we moved from house to house, but we did collect new flowers from new friends.  The sweet scent of an iris bloom still takes me right back to those early days in the garden.  When I moved into my current home I went straight to Schreiner’s Iris Gardens and bought new rhizomes that reminded me of the ones I remembered from my childhood.

A trio of iris blooms from G.'s gardens.
Featured here L-R are blooms from G.’s iris: Titan’s Glory, Payback Time, and Center Ice. (Photo by G. S. Norwood)

Traditions

My house was built in 1960 and oh, my!  The secrets it began to reveal once I settled in.

In the back I had three giant oak trees, surrounded by a fairy ring of iris.  As winter turned to spring, bulbs began to sprout, giving me not only the iris, but narcissus, and a bright cerise flower I identified as a Byzantine gladiolus.  One rainy fall, I was surprised by half a dozen red spider lilies in the front garden.

Pink Byzantine Glads and Red Spider Lilies from G.'s gardens.
Pink Byzantine Glads and Red Spider Lilies from G.’s gardens. (Photo by G. S. Norwood)

I bought the house from a friend.  It was where she grew up, and she wanted it to go to someone who would love it, so I was able to ask her about how my garden had come to grow.

Turned out the flowers were planted by my friend’s mother, but they came from her grandmother, who probably got them from my friend’s great-grandmother.  If I’ve done the math right, some of the flowers that volunteer in my garden every year are from bulbs that have been passed down through my friend’s family for nearly 100 years.

Romance

As nostalgic as I am about the iris and the spider lilies, they are not the only plants that make my garden grow.  Over the past four years I’ve been planting roses, native wildflowers, and other tough but beautiful plants that thrive in our hot Texas summers.

The beauty and romance of roses captivated me years ago.  Did you know that if you want the same kind of rose that Grandma had by her front porch, you have to plant a cutting of that same bush?

The good news is, those cuttings have been passed from breeder to grower to grandchild for hundreds of years.  You can still buy rose bushes grown from the red rose of the Lancasters or the white rose of the Yorks.  There are some rose varieties that may date back to ancient Persia, or Imperial Rome.  Who can resist that?

Many of these antique roses were named after the women their breeders loved: Mrs. B. R. Cant, Marie Daly, Madame Isaac Periere.  Okay, Madame Isaac was married to the rose breeder’s banker, so there may have been some debt forgiveness there, but what a story!

The "Marie Daly" rose with salvia in the background.
Could that be Marie herself, next to the salvia? Why, yes! (Photo by G. S. Norwood)

How Does Your Garden Grow?

While my garden is all flowers, Jan’s garden—which informs the intensive agriculture of Rana Station—is filled with practical and delicious veggies. 

Either way, getting out into the garden is good for you.  It promotes frequent, gentle exercise.  It offers food and habitat to bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.  There’s even some evidence that microbes in the soil help combat depressionAnd you don’t need a yard for a garden.  Many wonderful plants—even roses!—can grow in pots or tubs, on patios and balconies.  So what are you waiting for?  Get out there and find out how your garden grows!

PHOTOS: All photos were provided by G. S. Norwood.

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