A Growing Friendship
After enduring such a cold and wet winter, Joanne was ready to play in the dirt again. The first day of spring was one she always looked forward to, and this year she was especially eager for it. Her husband, Tom, had promised to build her a new garden shed. The two of them were in their seventies now and still enjoyed good health, so she saw no reason not to plan for the future as if she would have one.
Joanne had owned garden sheds of every shape, size, and color for thirty years now, but this time she wanted a small white cottage near the edge of the woods. Tom had been collecting all the old doors and windows he could find to make it happen. He was waiting for the ground to dry out a bit before he started on the foundation, but he’d given Joanne the go-ahead to start getting plants and décor ready.
In the garage, Joanne found the usual pile of garden pots and statuary that she always tossed inside at the last minute each fall. Typically, she waited for news of a freeze and rushed outdoors to collect any objects that might break. She’d learned the hard way that birdfeeders made of glass looked pretty during warm weather, but after they’d filled with water, frozen, and shattered—not so much.
The all-white garden cottage had been the focus of her reading and planning all winter. She kept a notebook where she taped photos from garden magazines and listed names of plants she wanted to grow. Joanne could hardly wait to watch it all come to life. Spring was definitely the season for the world’s dreamers and optimists.
Daffodils had been popping up in the neighborhood lawns for weeks, and in her cottage garden out front, the frilly burgundy foliage of the peonies was just coming up. Of course, the weeds were in abundance as well. Tom called those the zombies of the plant world, noting that you could try to get rid of them but they were indestructible and never really died.
Clay pots. That was what Joanne needed, her clay pots.
She loved seeing all the colorful ceramic pots in the garden center each spring, but when it got down to the serious business of potting and repotting plants, she found nothing did the job quite as well as a plain old clay pot.
She pulled out a box from beneath a shelf in the garage and found a dozen or so. Good. She already knew what she was going to plant around the new garden shed this year. She would have lemon basil, French thyme, cilantro, and several varieties of mint—the mint in pots because it was so invasive and would overtake her lawn if she didn’t corral it from the get-go.
Next, Joanne pulled out the box with her decorative garden pieces. The small mosaic fountain was a favorite and always created such a bright spot in the garden. The wire teapot planter had been a gift from one of her Red Hat Society friends a few Christmases ago. It had arrived with a poinsettia in it, and Joanne had often mourned the fact that poinsettias couldn’t grow outside year-round.
She still hadn’t found the planter she was looking for. It had been a gift from her gardener friend Marian, and it was perhaps the most treasured pot she had. Marian had died of a heart attack two years ago, and Joanne still felt the loss deeply. The two had been close friends, talking on the phone almost every day, getting together for lunch every Wednesday, and constantly seeing each other at church. And then, just like that, Marian was gone.
The two of them had talked on the phone the very morning Marian passed away, making it all the more difficult for Joanne to accept when Marian’s daughter called with the devastating news. Marian had been out separating the Siberian irises, and her daughter took comfort in the fact that at least her mother got to spend her last hours on earth doing what she enjoyed most—tending her garden.
Joanne hoped she would be so lucky as to take her last breaths outdoors while enjoying the beauty of nature.
Finally, Joanne spotted the earth-toned teacup planter in a box with some gardening tools she’d tucked away. She took the planter inside the house, rinsed off the dust and cobwebs, and carried it outside to the potting bench that she was using until the new garden shed made its debut.
There sat a small black plastic pot, and in it was a plant with lots of silvery-green foliage and tiny violet-blue blossoms. The plant was one she’d grown with seeds from Marian, who insisted on calling her plants by the Latin name. This one was ‘Myosotis sylvatica.’
Joanne removed the plant from its plastic pot, poured some potting soil into the teacup planter, and brushed away the excess soil before nestling the young plant inside. “There,” she said, pleased with her work. “For you, Marian.”
When the little white cottage was complete and it was time to settle in, Joanne would invite a few friends over to celebrate. Marian would have been so excited about the new garden shed, and Joanne wanted her to somehow be a part of it.
Now—thanks quite literally to the seeds she’d sown—Marian’s garden legacy would live on. For while Marian had preferred to call plants by the Latin name, Joanne did not. She intended to tell any visitor who asked that the sweet violet-blue blossoms in the teacup planter came from an old friend—and they were called Forget-me-nots.