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Perennial Gardens

07/25/08 5:55PM By Deborah Doyle-Schechtman
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(HOST) Writer and commentator Deborah Doyle-Schechtman has been tending the perennials around her house, and thinking about their enduring appeal.

(SCHECHTMAN) Several years ago I spent some time at a community in northern Scotland famous for its gardens.  Still is.  We grew huge vegetables that to this day were the best I ever tasted.  We also grew flowers - gorgeous flowers of every shape and description.  The plants, and the energy surrounding them at Findhorn, nurtured us as much as we fostered them.

I found myself thinking of that symbiotic relationship while weeding my own bed of flowers over the last few days.  How forgiving the occupants of this little patch of color on a small rise beside a mountaintop lake have been of late.  The forget-me-nots planted decades ago by the former steward of this property pop up everywhere the wind has carried them.  The day lilies and iris rise out of the soggy overcrowded borders at the foot of the bank year after year, as do the hosta that line the side of the camp.  All, including the cedar shake structure, are older than I.  All have weathered storms, suffered untold neglect, stood proud during the Dog Days of summer, and basked in the cool evening breeze.  All bring a smile to my face every time I see them. They're not only beautiful to look at, but I know from years of observing them that they'll take whatever the day brings with both dignity and grace.  Their gentle curves, soft arches and perfect proportions are a joy to behold - no matter my mood.

Gardening is an art.  It's the art of cultivation.  It's the art of nurturing. And such artistic endeavors can be found all over our state.  From the fields of sunflowers at the Shelburne Museum to the formal gardens at Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park, flowers and those who tend them inevitably brighten our day.

Perhaps that's why the festivals celebrating the return of our favorites are becoming more popular by the minute.  The relatively new Peony Festival in Hartland, and the well-established one at Hildene in Manchester have gone by, but the Phlox Festival at Perennial Pleasures in East Hardwick and the Hosta Days at Cider Hill in Windsor lie ahead.  As does the opportunity to visit any one of the dozens of perennial display gardens open to the public that punctuate the Green Mountain landscape.  Some of these are working farms and nurseries like UVM's Horticultural Research Center, also known as The Hort Farm, and Caddy Falls Nursery.  Others are as historic as the properties they adorn, like the Victorian garden of the Justin Morrell homestead, and the rose garden of the Park-McCullough House.

Our gardens, be they public or private, formal or not, and regardless of whether we tend them or visit them, are as much a part of our present as they are our past.  They are also our future.  That's part and parcel of their brilliance, as, in truth, they provide a thread that connects all three.  Maybe that's why we're inclined to find such comfort in them.  They show us where we are, where we've been, and offer us a glimpse of what is yet to come.  Forget-me-not, indeed!
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