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The day my neighbour led me up the garden path

My friends describe me as a “green thumb”. I think of all the hours I put in weeding, pruning, digging, dividing, deadheading, planting, watering...and smile. Because all those hours of work I put in are nowhere near the hours of enjoyment I get from being in my garden. And in those of others.

These would include gardens of friends and neighbours. My husband complains that we are incapable of doing a straight, brisk walk as I veer off in a tangent when I spy a sidewalk covered with the delicate blooms of lily of the valley or a climbing rose spilling over a fence. Sometimes, my love for gardening takes me into gardens of total strangers. Before you jump to conclusions, I do not wander into gardens at will, I am talking about garden tours where you have the opportunity to admire gardens you would perhaps otherwise not get to see.

Like all my gardening friends, I am eager to share tips and to learn from more experienced gardeners. But I am green in more ways than my green thumb.

On our street is a house with the most incredible garden on a corner plot. Cherry blossoms herald spring and soon the garden is a riot of colour as daffodils, tulips and lilies come up as if on cue.

Perennials fill beds with buds and blooms and exotic tropicals in giant pots line the fence. Plaques from the city recognizing it as an award-winning garden dot the yard.

I used to walk by the house, admiring the garden and hoping to speak to the person responsible for such beauty. But whether I walked in the morning or the evening, week days or weekends, I never, ever managed to spot the gardener. It was almost as though a bunch of industrious elves created the magical garden.

And then one glorious summer morning, I spotted her! The lady was digging up large clumps of brown-eyed susans right by the fence as I walked by. Sensing me slow down, she looked up and smiled.

“You have the most beautiful garden!” I gushed.

She looked very pleased.

“Would you like to come in and look around?” she said, invitingly.
I didn’t need to be asked twice. “Oh, may I?” I asked eagerly, and not waiting for her to change her mind, was on her side of the fence in a flash.

“I charge for garden tours,” she said, stopping me in my tracks.
She did have those plaques in her garden, so she probably did offer garden tours, I thought. How much would she charge? I wasn’t carrying my purse on my morning walk. Could I ask to see the garden now and come back to pay later? Or would she expect me to go get the money before showing me her garden? These thoughts ran through my head at rapid-fire pace.

She must have seen the confusion on my face.

“Just kidding! I was kidding!,” she was laughing. “I’m so eager to share my garden, my kids tease me that I drag people in off the street, and will even pay them to see it!”

“I know...I was just...” I stammered.

“Oh, just come in, will you?” she said, pulling me in.

We spent the most enjoyable morning discussing plants and a few days later, I gave her a tour of my garden. At no charge!
RSCO – ADHNA CHIBBER

Posted: Jul 1, 2011

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