October 29, 2010


Tomorrow, I’ll head for the garden store one last time before winter sets in. I’ve discovered a gap, a vacant corner that wants filling with a small shrub, possibly one with color in the fall. Like nature, I abhor a vacuum. A garden should be a place of irrational exuberance.

My visit to the nursery at the close of the season is always nostalgic. I see plants that didn’t find homes and am sorry for them. They will winter over in pots even though their roots are aching to be set free.

Life is full of moments, large and small, that tug at the heart. Sometimes they short circuit our sensations as when someone dies unexpectedly. I lost Mary, a friend of over 30 years last week. I had no premonition of it coming. She had a stroke, fell into a coma and died in her bed, drifting away in a peaceful sleep. Her death has left my spirits numb but any tears I shed will be for me. She left the world as she would have wished, independent and in full bloom. No wintering over for her. 

Years ago, I bought a Sunset gardening book which I have not only worn thin with use but have tucked so many flower articles among its pages, its binding has cracked. I turned to it today looking for a shrub to plant in honor of my friend. I think I’ve found it – a sacred bamboo that is hardy throughout the 4 seasons but picks up purple and bronze tints late in the fall – a shrub noted for its hardy, adaptive and happy color. 

Tomorrow, I will look for it at the garden store and bring it home to set its roots free. Nandina is its name; but I shall think of it as Mary.