Gardening is often a game of waiting; waiting for a plant to fill in, a shrub to bloom, a tree to grow up. When I started the garden at the height of summer in 1997 I had a blank slate and a limited amount of money to buy plants with. Friends gave plants to get my garden off to its start and every two weeks every penny left over would be spent at the nursery. Buying plants in fall gave me twice the buying power as perennials went on sale. I discovered buying from catalogs, some good and some not so good. Some plants bought by mail were not quite what I had ordered; a Nelly Moser clematis (pink and white) turned out to be Jackmanii (dark purple), and some plants were so small they were hardly more than seedlings.
I had visions in my head of a glorious garden, like I saw in magazines and books, but my back yard was a far cry from what I envisioned. One picture of a walkway shaded by blooming Laburnum trees was an inspiration. Imagine a path under blooming wisteria, with blue flowers dripping down. Laburnums, also known as golden rain tree, do the same with yellow flowers. While I couldn’t plant a walkway with trees on either side, I could buy a few trees and plant them in a triangular pattern. As the trees grew I could weave the branches to resemble a roof and in time I would have my very own sitting garden shaded by interconnecting blooming branches. I searched in catalogs for this tree and eventually I found a nursery which supplied them at a reasonable price. Upon arrival I realized why they were so reasonably priced; they were sticks! No taller than 12 inches, they would take a while to turn into a tree, let alone something to sit under in spring while admiring the blooms. That summer a hungry bunny discovered one of the laburnum saplings and killed it. Now I was down to two “trees”. As my garden changed, I needed to move one of the laburnums to a better spot. Since these trees have taproots going down deep, I killed this little tree while trying to move it. Years went by and the one remaining tree grew, slowly. Each spring I waited for blooms, but while the tree greened up nicely, there were no yellow flowers. Nine years went by and I despaired of every seeing the blooms in my very own garden. This weekend I looked out of the window and saw something yellow hanging off a branch. I ran outside and not only did I see one flower, there were two hanging off different branches! Oh, it has been a long haul waiting for this tree to grow and start flowering, but this time next year it should be glorious. A full decade in the making, but, yes worth the wait.
On the other hand, I sprinkled columbine seeds generously throughout the garden last fall. Soon little green plants appeared here and there and while winter made them disappear, they returned this spring. Lupines, also grown from seeds collected in front of the Morristown municipal building a few years ago, have also grown into nice clumps. Now these plants are blooming all over, weaving around other plants, and adding a rainbow of pastels throughout the garden.
A decade, a year, a season or two, an afternoon planting annuals for instant color, combined they add up to my garden, a work in progress as I putter away.