Gardeners are lovely people. Of course, all sorts of people are lovely, and in my experience, spinners and knitters are just as lovely as gardeners. But gardeners have a definite upside in the loveliness stakes here – they give you things.
Um – mind you, so do spinners and knitters; they just don’t turn up at the kitchen door with great trays of wool. What am I saying? Sheep farmers have been known to, once they realise you’re interested – they turn up with unwashed fleeces, and not trays so much as trailers. But there’s a link of course: growing things. It makes you generous. And then you give your friends clumps of Japanese anemones, albeit with a health warning (and yes, Pen, I am still keen, even if I have ripped up a lot more than you originally gave me)…
I had a lovely surprise along these lines last weekend. Firstly, it was sunny and that’s certainly a surprise; secondly, Karen of The Artist’s Garden and Dobby (of the helpful comments) turned up with trays. Big trays!
What you see here are 21 hellebores (!) and several pulmonarias. I love pulmonarias, and the garden is sadly lacking in the hellebore department, so that was wonderful. And then there were these:
Three Verbena bonarensisises, a black cow parsley and a sneaky Helleborus corsicus in with one of the verbenas. I was particularly glad to see the latter as my giant hellebore clump – originally given to me, in its turn, years ago by my mother and successfully moved several times – has suddenly decided to die right back to one pathetic stalk, and if I know my garden, that will go too. I do like it, and I would have been sorry to see it vanish altogether.
I rather like the idea that a plant that was a gift has been succeeded by another plant that is a gift – a sort of hereditary generosity of spirit, perhaps. I kept a record for my last garden, a list of plants and where I’d bought them, or who had given them to me. Sometimes it also included comments (‘Geums? Here? Died 2000’), and I only have to look at it now to be reminded of people and places.
And then to see a plant you’ve been given accommodate itself so quickly to your garden, and suddenly start looking really happy there –
well, it’s just perfect. Thank you so much!
So why are gardeners so generous? Is it simply because they like to share, like to spread their enthusiasms and favourite plants? Or is there another reason? I know Pen, Japanese anemone donor extraordinaire, was quite glad to get rid of some. She didn’t like the idea of just chucking them in the brown bin (she certainly didn’t want to compost them – yikes), but she did want to be able to get to her front door. And there I was, saying ‘How lovely, I’ve always wanted some of those…’.
I’m sure it’s not self-centred, though. I think the natural generosity of gardeners – not to mention a certain bet-hedging tendency when propagating – just makes us overproduce, and if anybody wants a tray of sage cuttings, I’m your woman.
Even if they do look cute with the raindrops on.
What do you think?