Do you remember our Wildlife Habitat, and how we are endeavoring to introduce grasses and native plants into this area of our garden? I know I’ve mentioned my garden club and the wonderful women gardeners in it. I know I have, many times, if truth be told, and now I am mentioning both here, because, dear friend, our little gardening experiment grew to twice its size in the past few weeks – in spite of our aching backs and dirty fingernails, we are experiencing supreme delight.
Members of our garden club maintain the herb garden at Wilder Park in Elmhurst. A small band of women, on bended knees, plant and weed and tend to this garden from about May to October, much to the pleasure of all who walk past it, sit on benches amongst its fragrant mist, or get married a few steps away under the Park District’s wedding tent. The herb garden is a delight to behold. Garden clubs throughout the States, and, I’m sure, throughout the world, do just this sort of volunteer work, making your pathways and byways more pleasant and bringing nature home.
I digress. Back to the herb garden, in all its glory, until a few weeks ago Sunday. You see, major construction is going on at the adjoining greenhouse and conservatory, necessitating the uprooting of the herb garden. As such, our club members were invited to help dig up the herbs and the grasses to make way for construction – and to keep some of the plants for our own use.
Shovels in hand, Tom and I headed over, bright and early in the morning. We arrived home several hours later with a car full of lavender, thyme, bee balm, Joe Pye weed, lemon grass, and Echinacea; plants we were hoping to introduce to extend our little grassy knoll which lies just past the arbor. I cannot begin to express our gratitude at having acquired all of these plants, nor can I adequately describe the scents in the car that fueled us home, or the thrill of the bees that were immediately attracted to the gifts of nature we immediately planted.
Tom rolled out the wheelbarrows and transformed himself into a sodbuster. We added compost, filled with friable soil and wiggling worms, planted and watered and watered again, until our newly adopted natives had their feet set firmly into the soil. How good it felt to sit for a spell in our arbor, sipping something cool, sharing some cookies, and watching our prairie grow.
Once everything was in, we needed to cut most of the plants back. Not quite ready to abandon the sweet fragrance of the Joe Pye weed, I slipped some of the cut stems into a honey jar and set it next to a wooden bench that had been languishing elsewhere. An old tree stump and a relatively new watering stone quickly found each other and became a birdbath, and our vista suddenly changed and our habitat expanded.
It will take a few years for our new garden to flourish and mature. A bevy of birds already frequent the new watering hole. Our eyes, then our feet, are daily drawn to this growing space. We feel a sense of exhilaration at having acquired such healthy stock from the herb garden that the women so faithfully tended to.
Come late winter and early spring, our garden club women will work with the park district on a new configuration of the herb garden. I can’t wait to see how they develop it. This is what all gardeners do, don’t they? They plant and plan, dig out and replant, share growth and garden wisdom and the comrarderie that grows among them, along with the herbs and flowers. What a busy summer of expansion, planting, sharing and nurturing we have had this summer. Phew!