It’s morning and I glance out my window to see green grass. How could that be on this late date in August? The grass should look like thatch and crunch beneath my feet. I’d have given up on watering at least a month ago. This year, I watered exactly once and I have a resplendent lawn to show for it. I’ve seen Colorado in summer and it resembles this with cool temperatures allowing gorgeous floral sprays to suspend from hanging planters and to color large clay pots strategically placed every few feet at outdoor venues.
Late last spring, we finally tore out the overgrown evergreen bushes that masked the front of our house and in their stead planted an array of native prairie wildflowers. The parting was bittersweet as the bushes in their youth and a more pruned state had been a distinctive feature of the curb appeal that drew us to this house. But once the unusually cool temps accommodated the swift growth of the wildflowers and they blossomed into the butterfly garden we desired with purple coneflowers attracting hummingbirds and finches alike, we rested easy and knew at least this transformative decision was indeed the right one. When does that ever happen?
Bumblebees graze the sage and black-eyed susans all day and keep my daughter from watering at dusk. It has been a delight to watch the garden unfold all summer with a recent repeat bloom of some white daisies and, finally, the long anticipated color from the stalks of goldenrod. A surprise burst of muted, pinkish-red from a plant we suspected might be a latent bloom of another species of black-eyed susan capped the garden’s blooming. We expect next year they will all return more vibrant and full with roots fully spread.
A neighbor whose house sits next to the residential artery splitting the large tract of subdivisions nestled between a hospital and a shopping district has a glorious garden that sprouts in May and slowly grows into a layered floral showcase that is a breathtaking pop of color to see from the road and an aromatic treat for pedestrians. It has been there for all of our 15 years in the area and my next-door-neighbor recalls her skepticism when the woman who lives there put it in. She didn’t understand why someone would plant a garden in a line so close to the sidewalk and parallel to the street. She was puzzled until she saw it in bloom. She noted that her youngest daughter, now a doctor practicing in another part of the city, has deemed it her favorite garden ever and relishes driving by it when visiting her parents.
It is one of the last points of reference on my nightly walks as I approach the wood and metal footbridge over Flat Rock Creek. I see the garden come into view on the horizon just as I crest the hill and pass the ample honeysuckle bushes clinging to another neighbor’s fence. I smile. What an extraordinary gift to the neighborhood.
The gardeners have planted a similar one on the far side of the open expanse of their yard, close to the trees lining the creek bank, which they could enjoy and view from their windows. The shade from the large trees, however, doesn’t permit the same magnificence the streetside garden exudes. Interestingly, their own view of the streetside garden is obscured by trees and the angle of the house as the garden creates a floral fence along their property line. A corner of it might be visible to them from their multi-level deck and if they peek around the trees from their windows. Their chosen flowers are a mix of native and some hardy but non-native plants that give the garden height and an exotic flare.
When I drive by, I often see other folks stopping long enough to inhale the fragrances floating out into the evening air. And that, well, that is quite another gift.