Old friends, old gardens
Andrea Bellamy |

An unexpected e-mail from an old friend and former roommate (hi Tara!) has brought back memories of one of my first gardens. I was living in Victoria at the time, just across the Georgia Straight on Vancouver Island (and, Nelumbo, an incredible Zone 9 because Victoria is further south than Vancouver). Tara and I had been living in a cute-but-crowded attic apartment and she harboured Martha Stewart-esque fantasies of a Real House. She found what she wanted – a big yellow house with a big yard – and we moved in, gaining two roommates in order to afford the rent.

It was the Garden of Trial and Error – and there were many trials, and many errors. Starting with our choice of roommates: two very attractive but emotionally unavailable and – it turned out, mentally unstable – brothers. The house was situated smack in the middle of the lot, with a narrow bed against the foundation that lacked foundation plantings. There was a big raised bed in the back that had once been a vegetable garden but was almost entirely overgrown with weeds and strawberries.

I learned several things through trial and error in that garden – for example, that mint is invasive (good thing it was a rental!) – and I always think of the lessons learned whenever someone claims not to know how to garden. Trial and error is always a good way to learn, as long as you’re not using expensive plants. And since it was a rental, nothing I bought was expensive – from the clearance-priced clematis to the wildflower-and-herb seed mixtures (still the only time I’ve been able to grow dill from seed).

What are your memories of gardens past? What’s the best lesson you’ve learned via trial and error?

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