LL Visits

LL Visits

May 22- the is the first entry in more than a week because LL has been in residence. Her parents traveled to Bermuda for a wedding, and while she stayed here, she was all I could think about. We took breakfast in The Garden most mornings, and then followed up with – There is too much to tell.

Breakfast in the Garden with LL
Breakfast in the Garden with LL

LL’s first project – mounding dirt on the deck. 2nd project- terracotta pots. Work included – weeding camomile, sprinkling straw in the wind, climbing compost pile and moving more dirt.

Gardens – I am still trying to understand my attraction to gardening. Beauty and happy remembrances from the past, yes, but there is more, and LL helped me see a new level. Gardens need visitors.

Gardens need pathways, thresholds, seats, residents, and visitors. LL is my most important visitor. And the garden successfully engages her. There were so many pathways we could not walk them all. Wowzie. On this minimal suburban property, I feel that was a big accomplishment. She liked the seating and the pathways. She was not noticeably interested in Persephone, St Francis, or the headless bunny. She was willing to walk to the two ponds and peek at the goldfish.

LL looking for goldfish
LL looking for goldfish

She found the seats to her liking. The cushioned wicker in the Persephone garden is where we took breakfast. She sat comfortably eating a banana or applesauce while I had my coffee. We listened to the birds and church bells. I would talk to her about what plants were coming up, and she listened patiently. At some point, she would look at me intently with her hands in the air and twist her wrists as if she were opening faucets in the sky. I would ask if she was done. She would say Yes and nod vigorously. And then she would slip off the chair and roam around the yard.

The garden took on new energy with a ride-on car, ride-on airplane, bubble producing lawn mower, and about fifty plastic plant pot faux building blocks. This morning only the colorful chalk on river rocks and rough hewn pine planks remains.

LL in garden drawing with colorful chalk
LL in garden drawing with colorful chalk

It was in the Persephone Garden that LL took on her first project. She scooped up dirt from the area and mounded it on the deck near the furniture. This garden is like a round room with a spherical fountain in the center, Persephone and her Portal at 12 oclock, the path to the veggie garden at 3 oclock, a wooden deck with a loveseat, two chairs and a low table at 6 oclock, the path to the Casita and the Big House at 7:30. and the path to the Woodlands at 9 oclock. The interior of the circle is pine mulch on landscape fabric. Running from the 3 o’clock veggie path to the 9 o’clock Woodland path is a line of river rocks, circling the fountain, streaming into an interior garden bed, and then flowing to the Woodlands. It is a designed that evolved over time. I think it feels a bit like sitting on a dock and watching the river go by.

It is a comfortable place to sit. One morning, LL set about gathering dirt and placing it on the deck. I watched as her tiny hands gathered bits of dirt. With an occasional glance, she checked to see what I thought. And wondered what she was doing, until I realized, she was asking for permission to work in the yard. So I smiled benignly, and made no move to interfere.

LL gathering dirt
LL gathering dirt

LL has a strong sense of place. I knew that she knew dirt did not belong on the deck. Why was she putting it there? Then I realized, before a person can open the sacred doors for creation, he must be in a safe space. Once LL was promised she could be inappropriate, wrong, and incorrect, she was liberated.

From there, she set out to do things with terra cotta pots in the Blues Corner. I could see she lost her whole self working with those tea cup sized pots, clinking them together, knocking them on the railroad ties, stacking them, filling them. This is landscape design.

As I watched LL get drawn into the energy of gardening, I realized, that is what I love. I love the inspiration, the pull, the lift that comes from this place where work is ongoing. The energy swirls creatively, palpably, calling visitors to move in the groove. The plants are working to get enough food, water, competing against the weeds, reaching for sunlight. Already the frogs are working, eating bugs. The goldfish are working eating mosquito larvae. The microbes in the compost tea are working. The worms are working. It is a busy place. I am the conductor. I amplify some work, facilitate other work, curtail some actions. I am the traffic light of the garden, going red yellow and green. And there is LL, effecting change. I hope I will always be her green light.

I no longer weed when LL is nearby. I was plucking out the few thin tender shoots of grass popping out of errant seeds in the straw. It is no work, and makes the garden look more relaxed. But LL, she has no skills for plant identification, and she imitates me by pulling out my chamomile. Fortunately, the tender green lacy leaves are tougher than her fingers, and she does very little damage. But I cannot hope to get her to learn what is what, so I will not pick anything but asparagus when she is with me.

My beloved Grandmother hit me only once. It was traumatic for us both. She slapped my fist which was clenching a tulip. I was bewildered. She was desperate. It was all so unhappy. A child cannot be expected to know a flower from a weed, or how to not destroy a flower while bringing it into the house. It is better for everyone to wait until the child is old enough to identify and handle plants before weeding and harvesting.

I had so many great times with LL. Here a a bunch of photos.


Barbie Burr

Barbie Darwin Burr was born in La Jolla, California into a Navy family. Moving every year made gardening difficult, but not impossible for her father, a disciple of Scott and Helen Nearing and a man with a vast ability to imagine and create.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *