While I love strolling through a garden center looking for just the right plant for a particular spot in my garden, most of my plants were not purchased, and my garden is not so much planned as it is cobbled together out of what I had to work with. At least half of my garden consists of plants given to me by my mom and neighbors looking for someone willing to take their gardens’ orphans. When hosta, bleeding hearts, coral bells, day lilies, or hydrangeas grow too big for their spot and need to be divided, I happily take the scraggly divided bits. I have two robust kousa dogwood trees that started as unwanted “babies” of my mom’s kousa. (Hey! I’m an adoptive dogwood mom!) Last summer, a friend got 10 baby trees as a thank you gift for joining the Arbor Day Society; I took two, a crabapple and a hawthorn, and stuck them into a garden bed to get a little bigger before I decide where they will end up.
My garden, in other words, is a horticultural version of the loaves and fishes story—abundance resulting from the simple act of sharing. It is a garden built on hospitality, on making room for whatever plants come my way, whether I was looking for them or not. I’m very good at welcoming hosta and hydrangeas. I could use a little more practice welcoming the people, tasks, and problems that arrive on my doorstep daily, not always with an invitation.
All three of these prized garden specimens—a large-leafed blue-tinged hosta, an Annabelle hydrangea with flower clusters the size of dinner plates, and day lilies in an uncommon lemon yellow color—were cast offs from someone else’s garden.I need only take a stroll through my yard to see what beauty can result when I am open to the abundance that grows from sharing, the possibilities of the unsought gift.