Saturday, October 27, 2012

My Lucies

Day 240
The Daily DuBrule

The year before I started Natureworks, in 1982, I began gardening for a German woman who lived around the corner from me, Lucie Carlin. Lucie had the most amazing garden I had ever seen. It was wild and romantic and pretty and blew apart all of the rules I had learned about gardens. I fell in love with the garden and adopted Lucie as my surrogate grandmother. I cared for her garden every week for the next 15+ years, often on my day off as my business got crazier. Not only would I garden for Lucie, I would do her grocery shopping, go out to lunch, sit late into the evenings and share food and wine as the sun set over the bay in front of her house, I even took her to Foxwoods casino when it opened! She opened my eyes and my heart to so much. 

I remember fondly the first time I tried to edge and weed her gardens. She would follow me around and watch me with an eagle eye. Those violets I thought were weeds in the front of the bed? Those seeds were brought over from Germany decades ago. The irises belonged to "the aunts" who had owned the cottage in the 50's. The peonies too. The buttercups were meant to weave in amongst the orange poppies; they weren't weeds, they were part of the tapestry in June. Together we grew this garden. I was the digger and the bender and the hauler. Lucie was the inspiration and creative director. Not that she knew the names of most of her flowers. She just knew that she needed more strong pink there and we need more of those blue plants right there. It didn't matter if there was a giant rock or tons of other plants that had just been cut back or gone dormant in that spot. If we needed a mass of deep blue, I found a way to put it in. 

As the growing season wound down each year we would look forward to the blooming of her deep pink mums. These were not just any mums. They didn't even start blooming until the very end of October and if the weather cooperated, there would be flowers lingering on Thanksgiving. They were very distinctive with a little ear-like pink petals sticking up in the center of some of the flowers. By giving them one hard cut back in June, they would be about 18" tall. They also were really hardy. Not only did they come back every spring, they spread and were easily divided and moved around the garden. I named them 'Lucie's Pinks'. Lucie called them "My Lucies". She would say, as I walked down the hill and entered her cozy little cottage "My Lucies are flowering!" I even brought divisions to a CT nursery and had them propagate them and introduce them to the industry. Actually, I would say it was re-introduce them as I am convinced they were from the line of early Korean mum hybrids bred by Bristol nurseries. When I would show pictures of this amazing, late blooming pink mum in slide shows around the state, someone would usually come up to me and tell me that her grandmother had the exact same mum in her yard. Lucie was so excited that this mum was being grown professionally. They even made a plastic tag for it with her name on it!

Eventually, this local nursery stopped growing this mum for me. I occasionally dig and pot up some plants to sell at Natureworks if asked. I have, in the meanwhile, planted it in my own gardens and given divisions to many of my friends. When they start to flower we call each other up and share the joy that 'Lucie's Pink' mums have continued to give us each year. 

1 comment:

  1. Everyone needs a pretty flowering plant that reaches its peak at the end of October! I'd love one here in the great white north...