Once a decade, the Netherlands Horticulture Council organizes an exposition celebrating and highlighting horticulture’s contribution to life. The event is a World’s Fair of horticultural products, innovations in food production, and the beauty of plants in all forms. Participants from around the world showcase their garden style and their premium exports from their part of the planet.
I am recovering from a fever. Tulip Fever. Seduced by their charms and captivated by their colors, petals, fringes, and the brief burst of beauty heralding the arrival of spring, I despair from the longing to possess these flowers in my garden.
Valentine’s Day is my favorite celebration, and yes, I know it isn’t a holiday, it is a marketing event. While it seems so commercial today, I am surprised to discover it has always been about marketing! In the late 1800s, Richard Cadbury needed to sell more chocolates to use his company’s cocoa butter surplus. Victorians were great fans of Valentine’s Day; they expressed their love in elaborate greeting cards (postage was affordable.) Chocolate became available to the masses (sugar had become cheaper), so Cadbury created a moment of marketing magic, the heart-shaped chocolate box. This beautiful box was sold as a dual-purpose gift because after your sweetheart ate the chocolates, she could use the heart-shaped box to store love letters and romantic mementos.1 In the US, Hershey chocolates made their famous kisses in 1907 continuing the romantic alliance.2
Heading into a new year the last thing any of us wanted was another round of virus vexation. Most of us have done everything we can to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe. We’ve stayed home in our gardens (if we are lucky enough to have one), we’ve worn our masks, gotten our shots, and yet here we are still on the bumpy road of uncertainty, restrictions, and canceled plans.
Though butterflies possess all five senses, “Butterflies can’t see their wings. They can’t see how truly beautiful they are, but everyone else can.
People are like that as well.”
I gave up growing roses in my Arizona garden years ago. I found them demanding and disappointing. I virtually stopped buying cut roses as well since their life span seemed incredibly brief. But I have just returned from a trip to Ecuador, where roses reign supreme, and I have an entirely different view of the world of roses.
This fantastic spider lily (crinum) grows in my garden. The plant is lush and green most of the year. I serendipitously planted it in just the right place, so it grows nearly 5’ tall and erupts in a fireworks-like display of white blooms in summer.
As the summer temperatures rise, we have waterparks, swimming pools, and water blasters for cooling off. It is such fun to anticipate the cool plunge, the joy of the cooling water. Expecting the splash is fun; a random splash is a water joke*.
“Sometimes people go to extremes and create eccentric, fantastic, obsessive gardens that linger in one’s memory and become tourist meccas.” Diane Ackerman, Cultivating Delight
I have been at home in my garden for over 14 months. I have been untouched by the direct loss of loved ones. I’ve not been ill. I’m vaccinated, comfortable and companionable with the love of my life sharing this experience. There are many things I haven’t liked about this forced seclusion, but my good fortune has been apparent to me.