In one of the coldest springs in recent memory, our friend Allison plans her first garden. The counter-intuitive nature of this project fits her down to a tee.
She completed her master’s degree with a prize-winning thesis, then left her boyfriend, bought an old house, and went to work at the local office supply store.
That’s Allison. Something restless in her, indeed.
She arrives at Jeeves’ house late one chilly spring morning to tour the garden. Not sure what to expect, exactly, Allison imagines something out of a gardening magazine, intimidating in its design, abundance, perfection.
As it turns out, only one of those words holds true: abundance.
“It’s all a grand experiment,” Jeeves says as she pushes a burgeoning shrub out of the way so they can access the back area. The branches, wet from rain, streak them with cold water. “Sorry,” Jeeves apologizes. “I really should cut that back, but after it blooms. I’ll sacrifice comfort for flowers every time.” Her laugh is muffled by greenery and damp.
The two women come around the corner of the house. In this moment, the garden belongs to the tulips. They are everywhere, random lollipops of bright red, yellow streaked with scarlet, pale pink, deep purple. “I plant a few more each fall,” Jeeves explains, “and the critters do the rest. They move the bulbs around, I’m convinced of it, so each spring is a complete surprise to me where the flowers pop up.”
Allison takes it all in, wide-eyed. She flashes on a visual memory of her mother’s garden, each plant standing in its own place, surrounded by red lava rock: a museum exhibit, pristine and tidy compared to this riot of shape and color.
“It is all a bit much, isn’t it,” Jeeves says, again reading Allison’s thoughts. “Just remember: a garden is an ongoing conversation between you and mother nature. Sometimes it’s more of an argument; other times, it’s a shared meditation. It’s never exactly the same two days in a row. Like being married, in fact.” Jeeves laughs again, and Allison finds herself joining in.
This might be the only time I look forward to getting married, she thinks.
“Good morning, Jeeves!” a cheery male voice calls out.
“Oh, hullo, love!” Jeeves replies, as a young man emerges into the tulip-bedecked space. “Allison, this is Emil. He helps me out around the place.”