One of the best parts of having gardens, I believe, is being able to share them with others. This obviously can happen in many ways. You may share plants from your gardens, you may enjoy shopping for plants with friends and exploring nurseries or you may enjoy showing other gardeners your accomplishments. I enjoy all of these ways of sharing but have found, because of my location, that giving garden tours can be a bit risky. You see, according to a friend who walked with me last week, “You must be a mountain goat.”

I guess I have become so accustomed to the steep hills, stretches of uneven ledge and cliffs along the edges that I don’t take note that much. But he did as he labored up and down the lawns to see the gardens.

Well, recently I had a group of ladies tour my gardens and despite my trepidations about broken ankles or, quite frankly, losing one over the cliff, it was quite fun. I am asked quite frequently to be part of garden tours but demur because of these worries. However, last fall I was doing a talk on roses for the Women’s Literary Union of Auburn and they asked if my garden was going to be on a garden tour. When I explained my concerns, they looked quite disappointed and so I issued an invitation for them to come visit this spring.

Well, we had a lovely time. First off, there wasn’t a single misstep or injury and I am very happy to say no one fell off the cliff. That would have been tough to explain to the insurance company, now wouldn’t it?

But, what surprised me the most and one of the parts I found the most fun was the curiosity. Now, all of these women garden to one extent or another, so I found it amazing that I had plants they didn’t recognize. I also took great delight in pink lupine seed pods being carefully tucked away in pockets. I guess we all have things we take for granted that others don’t, and they liked the shade of pink and found it unusual. I hope they all get them to grow so others can see that pink as well.

I do have a tendency to run experiments in my garden with odd plants I find and to try and test what all those plant magazines tell us all. I showed them the new gaillardia “Fanfare” that was introduced last year and, although I am not a lover of orange, it is a pretty little plant and has grown as advertised. I also showed them a new variegated Jacob’s ladder or polemonium called “Snow and Sapphires.” It is a lovely garden plant with interesting foliage, a neat mounding growth habit and lovely blue-purple blooms on stems above the plant. It has made a nice addition.

The sundrops, a kind of evening primrose, were just opening in abundance and really made you feel like summer was here. They are a fairly invasive plant but since I have them in an island bed that gets mowed on all sides, they can’t invade too far.

But one of the nicest parts of their visit was an extended and lively conversation on the deck overlooking the gardens. Hearing the gardening stories that progressed to travel stories to little glimpses of their lives and families gives you a sense of comfortable familiarity. It was a wonderful day all around as the clouds parted and the sun came out and I sent them safely back down the hill. I’ve decided perhaps I should worry less about broken ankles and think more about the joys that come from sharing a common interest that allows you to enjoy the wonderful discovery of new people.

Until next time, perhaps you should try and experiment with plants or maybe people, enjoy the sunshine and warmth on your face, plan an adventure or a picnic with your favorite friend and watch for the lilies and Canterbury bells that will be here soon. Happy gardening!

Jody Goodwin has been gardening for more than 20 years. She lives in Turner with her husband, Ike, her two dogs and two cats. She can be reached by writing to her in care of the Sun Journal, 104 Park St., Lewiston, Maine, 04243-4400 or by e-mail at [email protected]


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