By Lael Gibbs on Aug 29, 2019The Roxbury Local

A couple of years ago, Brian and I decided to take a section of our yard that was difficult to mow and turn it into a landscaped garden. We were pretty proud of our idea as that section of grass was right in front of the door that guests use when they walk up to our house. In our minds, a little garden would create a beautiful landscape for anyone approaching the house to see, and we wouldn’t have to finagle the lawnmower over those small, difficult angles anymore. Win, win.

I immediately got to work scouring the internet to learn how to maintain a garden. I searched for garden pictures to get an idea of what I wanted to put there, searched for the names of each plant, and then searched to see if there was anywhere that would deliver them. In my mind, I could see this beautiful HGTV/Pinterest-worthy garden coming to light. 

As we started to embark on creating this garden space, my neighbor stopped by to see if we needed any help. She has been an avid gardener for years. Her backyard is absolutely beautiful and full of colorful flowers and unique greenery. I proudly told her about my internet research, and without cringing (although I’m sure that she wanted to), she very sweetly taught me a few quick lessons about how gardening was really done.

After that, she came over almost every time that I was out working on the garden. She brought over her favorite gardening supplies, and taught me what she had learned about gardening over the years: like the importance of picking plants that matched the amount of sunlight for the area, how buying starter plants that are locally grown can help increase the success rate because of the similarity in soil, and she should me a few of her tricks for keeping the deer and bunnies from nibbling everything that was just planted.  She even split some of her own plants and transplanted them into our little garden space. Overall, I think we ended up spending hours gardening together, chatting, learning and teaching, and then of course sharing some snacks and a glass of wine afterwards.

Now, a few years later, she is still a much better gardener than I am, but we now swap plant splittings pretty regularly, and show off our new garden additions to each other at the beginning of the season. I could not be more thankful for the time that we spent together in the garden that season. Her love of gardening was contagious; and using what she taught me, I was able to create a few garden spaces around our little property.

The internet truly holds an infinite amount of knowledge, and maybe I could have gathered enough of it to create a successful garden, but I certainly wouldn’t have laughed as much or bonded as much with the internet. For those few weeks, I felt like an apprentice or a mentee. I got this great hands-on learning experience, plus I got to hear these incredible stories about Roxbury, the Litchfield County area, and experiences from her life.

It seems like, as adults, we are inclined to try to figure things out for ourselves, whether it’s sitting down at the computer or pulling out our phones to quickly look something up; and I think that it becomes easy to forget about the lost art of absorbing knowledge from those around us. It is also easy to glance across your driveway at the crazy woman trying to start a garden all wrong and think, “I’m sure she’ll figure that out.” And it is for those reasons that I am so glad that my little garden worked out the way that it did. Now, when I step outside, I feel a small sense of accomplishment for the work that was put in, but I also feel a sense of nostalgia because each one of those plants has a story and a memory (and a few glasses of wine) attached to it.

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