Friday, March 20, 2015

No fair weather gardener


My college friend Lee Sessions is a native of Marietta, Georgia, and his mother was a cousin of Elizabeth Lawrence, to my mind the greatest garden writer who ever lived.  Lee just sent me the outline of a lecture given about Miss Lawrence, sent to him by yet another relative.

Margaret Moseley, as I have mentioned before and devote a chapter to in A Garden to Remember, revered Elizabeth Lawrence, had all her books and could quote long passages from them.  I found it interesting in what Lee sent me that Miss Lawrence was born on May 27 (my birthday).  Margaret's next birthday will be May 28th.  She will turn 99.

So much of Margaret's view of gardening and her interest in plants and handling them herself parallel the same opinions held by Miss Lawrence.  I do think that if Margaret had not stumbled upon her books, she would still have been out there every day, moving and sharing plants and corresponding with other gardeners she met through the Farmers and Consumers Market Bulletin (published by the Georgia Department of Agriculture).  Margaret sold poppy and impatiens seeds through the ads and had a lively correspondence going with those who bought from her.  The intent was never to get rich (hardly possible at .50 or $1.00), but to make sure others could have plants to enjoy.

Margaret also read extensively - everything she could get her hands on - and welcomed visitors to her garden.  You could be sure you'd drive away with a plant and with your heart beating so fast with inspiration to go home and garden with the same enthusiasm and joy as Margaret.

I took the photograph of this daphne in her garden last Saturday.  Margaret is confined to bed now.  Her gardening days are behind her.  She still greets you with a laugh and the sharpest mind.  "Oh my, look who's here."

The above scene says a lot to me.  I had another view of green grass paths and camellias in bright red and pink.  It was hard to choose which to show.  Both reminded me of how Margaret would call me on the dullest days of winter and tell me that her garden was the prettiest it had ever been.  This didn't happen a few times.  It happened dozens of times each year.

Margaret was a hands-on gardener.  She dug the holes herself and ended up with a year-round garden - one that thrilled her no matter what the season.  She was out there every day.

So, when I was reading passages from the Elizabeth Lawrence lecture, I landed on this one:  "I never did care for fair weather gardeners.  Standing behind glass doors, they look out at the cold ground and leafless branches and exclaim, 'How beautiful this must be in spring.'"

This never applied to Margaret.  Yes, her garden was beautiful in spring, but with all the daphnes, hellebores, camellias, the Prunus mume (she has several), the rare and stunning Michelia maudiae,the leaves of Arum italicum and variegated money plant and Edgeworthia chrysantha and early daffodils, she never, ever looked out without seeing something beautiful - all due to her own creative spirit and hard work.