In these strange times, I have to admit I have been relishing the opportunity to stay home and work in the garden. I am like most dedicated gardeners: no boredom for us when we have weeds to pluck and flowers or vegetables to tend. No matter how much time I spend in the garden, it never seems to be enough. After adding plants into the beds for over 18 years now, I find I have plenty to move around and needed no trips to the nurseries this year. Although I did miss the socializing I used to do when friends would accompany me and we would hit as many nurseries in the valley as we possibly could in one day, stopping only for a special lunch somewhere.

Alas, those days have gone this spring, and although I have made a couple of local nursery trips, I haven’t purchased much beside some annuals, a very cool piece of yard art, and a few packages of seeds to start some vegetables. I know…this from the woman who has never had luck with growing anything from seeds. But Gary built me a tiny little cold frame and I was able to start zucchini, lettuce and dill seeds with great results. You might notice I chose seeds that were easy to grow. Nothing like setting myself up for success.

Because I have had so much garden time, I have taken notice of perennials I had forgotten I even had. Many were tucked in under other plants, and were struggling to find sunlight. It was, in some cases, quite a bit of work to free them from the confines of other plants. Other cases were easy to clear some space for. I find that some plants are naturally more likely to thrive than others.

But, as I worked and worked and worked in my garden, I realized how many of the plants that have been thriving are ones given to me by fellow gardener friends. Do I unconscientiously take better care of them because they came to me from friends, I wonder? I know I tenderly care for a certain hosta that was sent to me by my sister-in-law from Pennsylvania when we first moved here so I could have a little piece of her garden in mine. And the fragrant hosta that Deb didn’t have room for any more so she passed it along. The same is true from a grouping of plants given to me by a dear, dear friend Sheila who is no longer with us. I hope she realizes I think of her every single day as I pass by them on my way to walk the dog. And I take extra care of the Japanese maple tree that Patty gifted me when she moved from the area. It is along the path to the house, and I pass by it every day as well.

I can’t forget to mention the geums that friends Lyn and Doug gave me before they moved to Hawaii. These are sweet little plants but very unassuming that I have to carefully tend them as they won’t be smothered by more the aggressive daisies that are their neighbors in the beds. And those daisies! They were a gift from Serena and have graced my garden since 2003, long before our sweet granddaughter Daisy graced our lives in 2008. The daisies remind me not only of our granddaughter but of Serena. Oh, yes, and the day lilies from Cris that I have divided over and over again and are now in clumps all over the garden. And the hydrangea that Mary had propagated for me over 15 years ago that I found buried under a chocolate vine a couple of weeks ago. They are all so special.

But then I have to wonder, are these plants hardier in my garden because they had done so well in another’s garden and were passed along out of love? I know that is true of plants I have gifted to others. The ferns I have shared with gardeners who have shady spots are an example. I have also shared euphorbia with Diane who has the perfect spot and will dig up more in a day or so for Beverly. Sometimes a word of caution must accompany these plants from my garden. Often times I can share so generously because they get to be overgrown and too much in my garden, certainly true of euphorbia. But even then, friends seem willing to accept them with all caution abandoned to the winds.

A wise person once reflected that happiness is not having what you want but wanting what you have. This is true in my garden. It makes me especially happy to remember all the friends who are no longer with us – either moved away or passed on – that cared enough to share pieces of their gardens with me. And I may not be able to remember what I had for breakfast last week, but I certainly know who gave me each and every one of my most treasured plants.

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