While I was primarily raised in the wilds of New York City, there was a short period when I was about nine or ten when we lived in the suburbs of Long Island. The takeaway from that time was exposure to gardening. It happened in a roundabout way.
Walking home from school daily, a neighbor’s dog followed me along the fence and barked at me. One day it shoved a stick through the fence, and I threw it back. This started an afternoon ritual for both of us. The bored dog was looking to play, and the bored student on his way home looking to make a friend of the dog. Eventually, the owner noted that her dog had a new playmate every afternoon, and I was invited into the yard. She had a yard planted with perennial flowers and an extensive herbal garden. I became enthralled; some time that summer, she gifted me with my first plant, feverfew.
Before the fall, one plant had become a dozen, and my father had created a small garden bed for us on the patio of our apartment. That winter, we moved back to the City, and the little garden was just a fond memory for many years.
It wasn’t until the 1970s that I was living where I had the opportunity to have another garden. Since then, I’ve shaped gardens in improbable urban locations, industrial spaces, open countryside, and suburban plots. It’s more than a desire; it’s imperative for me to create a garden, even if it happens to be inside under lights.
Currently, I have floral and herbal plantings, a vegetable garden, and a woodland garden replete with a pond and a waterfall. Since we own this property, I’ve fully spread the garden throughout the lot.
My garden is a luxury that is both useful and necessary. Weeding, tending the garden beds, or just sitting and listening to the waterfall are peace-creating activities in a world where that is the true luxury.