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.