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My Garden Will Give You a Piece of My Soul

Sharing Really Does Mean Caring--and Learning, Too!

By Catherine KenwellPublished 2 years ago Updated 2 years ago 4 min read
Author's Garden, July 2022

A couple of weeks ago I removed and transplanted some plants from my front garden. Now, my front garden is a wild and beautiful thing—it is chock-full of native plants, pollinator hosts, edible grasses and flowers, and human food such as tomatoes and peppers.

So when I pulled out some lilies and offered to share them with our local online gardeners’ group, I wasn’t surprised that some folks were interested. Almost immediately, I had responses and messages from people who would like to have them.

Over two days, I dug and yanked and potted several large clumps of bright yellow Stella D’Oro and ruby-red Stella in Red varieties. They were some of the first flowers I’d planted when I began building the front yard garden in 2017.

I posted a message that I had put some lilies in pots at the end of our driveway. A couple of hours later, they were gone. I kept adding to the freebies and used up most of my garden center plastic pots. I advised that there would be more available the next day.

Author's Garden - July 2022

By the next morning, I’d dug up four more buckets’ worth. Most of the red were gone (and I’d damaged some stubborn others trying to yank them out). But I’d had a message from a lovely friend and neighbor, so I heaped a huge clump into a pot and put them aside for her.

I promised another member of our group, so two clumps of Stella D’Oros went to her.

While I was still toiling away in the hot sun, a car pulled up and stopped. Two middle-aged women emerged.

“I wanted to thank you for the flowers,” the one woman said. “I was the one who picked them up last night.”

“Oh, you’re very welcome!” I smiled, thanking her for giving them a good home.

“I brought my friend Bonnie to see your garden,” she continued. She hadn’t dropped by to pick up additional plants; rather, she was so entranced with my wild garden that she wanted others to see it. Of course, I’m thrilled.

Indigo Rose Tomatoes, Author's Garden - August 2022

Then she explained why she took them. She lives in an apartment building, she said, and her landlord and superintendent don’t do much to look after the lawns or the gardens. She and her friends began scouring sales and freebies for plants—and they’ve created a beautiful garden that they manage on their own. They’re also creating a new area for growing vegetables, so that they can all share in the bounty come harvest time.

These types of initiatives are at the heart of a healthy gardening community; through sharing resources we can address food insecurity, community pride, and native wildlife and pollinator protection.

I was impressed to hear about their efforts, and so pleased to know that the first things I’d planted five years ago were going to live on. I’d removed them because I needed space; as my garden evolved, I planted more native plants and pollinators and the lilies were so robust they crowded everything else.

The women, meanwhile, wanted to hear about my garden. Back in the spring of 2017, I’d created one of the first wild gardens (no lawn or grass) in our community, and I was the first on our street to build a boulevard garden. It’s still remarkably different than most of the properties in hour neighborhood.

The two continued to gaze at the colorful anything-goes combinations and varieties, and they asked me questions about growing and starting from seed and how much sun certain plants need. Like I have the answers. Gardening, for me, is like most things in life—mostly trial and error. Oh, I can read books about (whatever), but I’d rather just dig in and get my hands dirty!

Shortly after they departed (with another clump of lilies), my dear neighbor arrived to pick up her Stella in Reds. She is delightfully generous and proudly exchanged the flowers for a massive, juicy, freshly picked tomato. It’s the kind of tomato that is perfect for a toasted tomato sandwich (a little salt, a little pepper, a small glob of mayo), one of my favorite summer treats.

We chatted about gardening and growing, and she told me where she’d be planting her new flora. “I have a spot picked out for them,” she said. “I have a collection of things from other people’s gardens. That way, my garden is full of friends and memories.”

Yes, sharing and appreciating our magnificent plant life augments our joy and mitigates the effort it takes to tend to them.

Author's Garden - Spring 2022

I’m proud of our garden evolution. Two years ago, the garden was certified a “Wildlife-Friendly Habitat” by the Canadian Wildlife Federation. To be certified, a garden must demonstrate the presence of food, water, shelter, and shelter for birds, butterflies, bees, and other creatures. Native plants, little hidey-holes for small animals and reptiles, and pollinator host plants are required.

Last year, it was registered and certified as a Monarch Waystation by Monarch Watch. Our garden contains milkweed, nectar sources, and shelter to protect and sustain monarch butterflies during migration.

My garden philosophy is simply, “Everything in our garden has to feed something or someone.”

I explained my philosophy to my two visitors and shook my head when they asked if it was a lot of work. I showed the empty spot from which I recently harvested 50 garlics and pointed out that the nectar sources need sunshine and rain and no additional help from me. “Not really,” I said. “It’s as much work as I want it to be.” And so on any given day, visitors will encounter weeds sprouting and clumps of yet-to-be-spread soil, perhaps a small pot that once held a transplant, seemingly discarded but left to toss deadheads into at the drop of a hat. It’s not neat and tidy, but its value can’t be denied.

Sharing what we grow makes our world a little more beautiful and sustainable. Remember, everything in your garden should feed something or someone. Plant ‘second-hand’ flowers in a scrubby apartment patch; plant memories with lilies your friend nurtured before you did, and remember, sometimes feeding means feeding the soul.


About the Creator

Catherine Kenwell

I live with a broken brain and PTSD--but that doesn't stop me! I'm an author, artist, and qualified mediator who loves life's detours.

I co-authored NOT CANCELLED: Canadian Kindness in the Face of COVID-19. I also publish horror stories.

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Nice work

Very well written. Keep up the good work!

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Comments (4)

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  • Holly Pheniabout a year ago

    Very nice story! Our town has a community garden and so did one of the schools where I've worked. I love the concept of sharing and working together, maybe more gardens will spring up due to people reading this story.

  • Cathy holmesabout a year ago

    Wonderful story. Love this pics.

  • Mariann Carroll2 years ago

    I love your garden stories , someday I will create my very own fairy garden for kids to enjoy and appreciate plants in nature . ❤️🌹

  • Shah Hussain2 years ago

    Nice work sweety keep it up I am also new in this field plz subscrib me and give me tip too

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