One of the greatest joys in my life is the Pacific Northwest Flower and Garden Show. I go every year and wander among the display gardens, crafts, art, and products I could never afford. I think of it as being something like visiting Narnia. We walk through the doors and suddenly the flowers are brighter than in our gardens that still sleep. In early February my garden is like it being “always winter and never Christmas.” It’s really pretty dead, and this year it was still covered with patches of snow.
The garden show is spring before it is really time for spring. The flowers bloom without frost damage or water spots. The air is scented with fragrant hyacinths while my hyacinths at home are just sticking their noses out of the ground as if testing the temperature to see if they really want to come up and bloom. This year, they don’t.
As in a proper Narnia, the walls and gardens are both exotic and funky. A garden gate must have a window for the big people to look out and a lower window for the little people to look out. Narnia has houses for big people, little people, foreign people, nomads and of course the tower for the princess.
The sense of fantasy can be something as big as a dragon or as little as an herb garden. I looked at the charming little herb garden with the sweet little herbs growing so obediently in their little rows. This is Narnia, folks. I do grow herbs. My bay tree is ten feet tall. My rosemary is six feet tall despite the heavy pruning I give it every year. The parsley has gone dormant, but the thyme thrives. My tender herbs grow two feet tall and shade out or just overpower anything with in two feet of them. They aren’t nice. They’re thugs. They have to be in order to survive in the reality of my garden.
A tent in a garden is a wonderful place to hang out and listen to the birds, the wind in the trees, and the coyotes howling in the enchanted forest. At the garden show even the tent is unreal with it’s blown glass candelabra and rugs on the floor. In my own enchanted forest we can hear the wind and the birds and even the coyotes, but the tent better have a tarp over it to keep the rain out and why in the real world, does everything have to be an unnatural blue?
I want glowing orbs in my garden. Where do I get glowing orbs? What I do have is the rope lights inside the cold frame. This is just not the same as soft pink glowing orbs. These would be so lovely in the enchanted forest.
In Narnia, all the plants grow in tidy rows or circles. The sense of unreality expands in a garden with topiary, as all the shrubs grow in their proper form. Alas, the fantasy explodes when we find the garden designer working hard to keep his display looking fresh. I thought he would make a nice element in my garden but security got testy when I tried to drag him out to my car and stuff him in the trunk along with my new pruners and bulbs. I can still hire help from the local garden store, so I left this worker where he was.
Alas, even Narnia has it’s troubles. It lasts only five days before the whole thing is dismantled and disappears until next year. Meanwhile, my own garden will grow and bloom. The ducks and goose will waddle around eating slugs and pecking at weeds. They add a sense of funky movement to the garden. The birds come back from their warm winter homes. My garden will live again and be what it is, a little farm on the edge of an enchanted forest.
Acknowledgement: tony@redwoodlandscaptingand builders.com
Delinda McCann is a social psychologist, author, avid organic gardener and amateur musician.