One Year Later

Photo by Gayla Trail  All Rights Reserved

A year ago, during the communal street garden cleanup, a neighbour came by and gifted me a pot of double-flowered bloodroot. I have long admired bloodroot but never would have purchased it for myself. My gardens are so transitory and the street garden is just not a safe place for anything with a tender, delicate beauty.

Being special, I decided not to plant it in the street garden, but instead put it in the ground over at my community garden plot where it would be safe from the trampling feet of drunken weekend revelers looking for a quiet spot to urinate.

Since then Barry, has become a great friend, and a constant in our lives. I am slow to trust and make friends, and I think it is a testament to the kind of person Barry is that he moved from neighbour, to garden pal, to coffee buddy, to someone I can’t imagine my life without within the span of mere months. I feel incredibly lucky to have met him.

Barry is someone I can spend hours with nerding out over plants — his enthusiasm, curiosity, and joy in the garden is tireless. Over the last year he has taught me a tremendous amount about plants, gardening, and even life. I realized the other day that he has quietly and by example become the mentor I wasn’t looking for, but needed.

And the plant, which I now know from Barry is Sanguinaria canadensis f. multiplex, delighted me by blooming a year later. To the day. When I walked through the gate of the community garden and saw the blooms glowing in the sun, I squealed and did jumpy claps on the spot without hesitation or embarrassment. I don’t think I’ve ever responded so enthusiastically to a flower. To my surprise, it was one thing to see the plant come up in Barry’s garden, and quite another to find it had survived a year under my care.

Through Barry’s example I have shed some of that careful, measured resistance to acquiring special plants that would bring me great joy, and equal heartache should they succumb to one of the hazards in my gardens. Yes there are limitations around the needs (and price tag) of the plants, but I was forcing limits based on the impermanence of my gardening spaces. I may never have the “right space” in which to have these botanical experiences so it seems better to just dive in than hold back indefinitely. As a result I am finding a new level of joy in the garden, and learning a lesson about what I stand to gain by assuming the risk of loss, regardless.

Thanks Barry.

Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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10 thoughts on “One Year Later

  1. “drunken weekend revelers looking for a quiet spot to urinate” — that’s my street. We have to leave a spotlight on the garden at night to keep the drunks out. And during the day I have to worry about people who pick or pull what they want growing near the street. I plant my prizes further in the garden now.

    Your bloodroot is beautiful! I only have the single but have always loved bloodroot.

  2. Ciao Gayla-

    You’re so right about self-limitations keeping us from living in the moment. Life itself is transitory, and even housing is transitory, whether you rent an apartment or own a house.

    I never had any perennials growing up because we moved so often. Perennials were something people got when they retired or people who met when they were 5 and ended up married for 50 years in the same house. At least that’s what I thought. I had gardening spaces in a lot of the places I lived after University, but never allowed myself to think beyond annual flowers and vegetables. When I moved here, I had absolutely NO clue whatsoever of how to take care of perennials, even the ones that came with the house. That first spring, I participated in a fairly large local plant swap and got just all sorts of different perennials, still with no clue. I just planted them wherever, without any idea as to the design or colour palette I wanted the garden to have. Several years later, I’ve taken out ones that “don’t work” for whatever reason, maybe they’re too short and getting crowded by taller things or maybe the colour is too gaudy (for me), so I’ve passed them on to other gardeners who love them with their whole heart just as they were given to me. I now make conscious choices about which perennials to acquire and where to put them, but for those first few years, it was like having a laboratory in the front and side yards where just about all of my perennials go.

  3. Sorellina: Great story. Thanks so much for sharing.

    Sylvana: I think the single bloodroot are pretty swell too.

    Bre: I didn’t mention you, but you are integral to this story. Thank you!

  4. Gayla – thank you for your story it was nice to be able to get away for that moment – I laughed to find someone else who does the jumpy clap dance to see a plant bloom for the first time – I know the people in my neighbor think I’m crazy – oh well . . .

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