People Who Show Us The World
In 1938 Buzzy’s second grade teacher made his class listen to Wagner and walk through gardens of neighborhood ladies and gentlemen. Some of the boys sneered. Buzzy, always sensitive , pretty much shocked me when he said, “Once or twice, on the playground, I found the boys who laughed and interrupted and I, (he whispers this part) beat some ass.” In 2013, at 80, Buzzy, whispers when he uses such language.
Yesterday, he and I walked through Seibels garden in the Columbia, SC historic district. Buzzy has deep roots in this neighborhood; he grew up close by and he used to teach just across the street but he hadn’t seen the renovation, the redesign that Tom & I got to do about 7 years ago. He remembered some of the plants like a towering sasanqua we stood under. But he’s a realist; “It wasn’t a very good one, and there’s no way that plant is still alive. It must be a seedling.”
But he wants the pollen from it anyway so he can fertilize a plant at home and collect the seeds next year. If he does that (he wants to put it on Camellia sinensis so he can get an early flowering red) the seedling will grow for a few years, and maybe flower in 2018, seventy years after Mrs. Johnston marched her class around the gardens of the elite, in hopes of producing a gentlemen like Buzzy.
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What a privilege to be able to walk through such a garden with someone who brings rich memory and years of experience to share with each other about that garden! Both you and your friend Buzzy would feel that way, I should think.
I can remember walking at dusk through the gardens of the Caldwell-Boylston House on Arsenal Hill when Mrs. Boylston still resided in the mansion. What vast perception and recollection I missed in not being able to take that walk with Mrs. B herself!
I’ve been writing down an outline of his life; especially trying to get to the point of how he became a gardener. I’ll ask if he knew Mrs. Boylston.