There’s a patch of paper whites and snow drops in our pasture that’s older than I am. Just behind the little shed that’s been pony shed, goat shed and now donkey shed. Those are the kinds of bulbs I want in my gardens.
From a practical stand point, because they come back, they thrive and flower with no care from us. They don’t even need protection — no animals browse on them. At least not ponies, goats or donkeys. Second because flowers that live for so long carry memories with them. I helped birth a donkey foal right here one spring. Who ever lived here, over the past 100 years probably has some memory as vivid and sweet — that would be stirred by seeing these flowers today.
Some of those people are still around. In fact, we had a family reunion for them a few years ago. The farm is 1750’s, but we know from 1905 photographs that there wasn’t a garden here then. So all these plants represent styles and taste of people during the 1900’s.
Lots of other plants around this old farm carry memories too. And they tell the story of garden styles — we know spring flowering shrubs were really popular, we know they collected unusual conifers, we know they loved crinum lilies. The plants are a story of the place.
A few warm winter days and the old style shrubs and bulbs come into flower at once. This is a spring garden. I love these flowers, because they come early in the year and because they make me think of and wonder about the people who loved them.