Green thumbs growing in Forest Park

Opinion: Columns

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By Jill Wagner

She is no weed, as her name suggests, but a rugged native perennial, the great Joe-Pye Weed. Grows taller every day, so strong and high. Up past 6 feet now, towering over me.  This mighty giant with deep green foliage came from my friend's mom, Eloise's garden, and like her she has dictated where to grow and over the past decade and has pushed her way out of the perennial border near the fence to the foreground, in several directions, ignoring all gardening design to root where the sun shines in early spring. 

 I've adjusted my planting around her force as this towering beauty deserves her space to grow and bloom her pink flowers that feed the migrant butterflies who adore her.

I have adjusted because she is worth it. She is no weed.  

For years I've been removing the young double heart shaped sprouts of morning glories that were innocently planted by a green-thumbed neighbor along our common fence. This trumpet flower took root and bloomed easily with deep purple flowers that opened every morning and closed at night. Beautiful vines rooted and climbed up with ease any fence, plant, air conditioner with a choking grip. This tenacious trumpeting annual is a reminder that a weed is in the eye of the beholder.

Delighted, this past Sunday, I walked among Forest Parkers on the House and Garden Walk sponsored by the Historical Society. I love observing how every gardener has made space for every leafy or flowering temperament, taking in the micro-habitats as they interact among its fellow stalks and pedals, old and young.  

Gardening is not much different then community Facebook boards or community in general. There are bright sun lovers, creepers, perennials, annuals, cranks, roots which need to be pulled early, beautiful blossoms that need care, hopefuls, standbys, and even like the Steinbach hydrangeas, who's magnificent flowers only bloom every other year, on their own unique pace.

Every garden in town, starts with the same soil, relatively, and out comes variations of beebalm, coneflowers, milkweed, sun flowers, tomatoes, zinnias, Kentucky green grass, wisteria trees or spiraling trumpet vines that mark property lines with grace and beauty.  Amazing water features and brilliant koi ponds can be found nesting in comfortable Forest Park yards.   

Some homeowners have enhanced their gardens with painted garages, tables and chairs accenting the growth around them with brilliant color theory challenging human and natural world. Some have plotted out a space in the community garden, an inspiring area of kinship in town.

Just like a garden, we all take in information from our own experience, riddled with hopes and fears, and decide what will grow and what needs to go. How refreshing to see how lovely people adjust to their lighting, soil and spaces and decide what is beautiful to them. For me, and my yard, the Joe-Pye weed will continue to thrive in my own little sanctuary I call my yard.

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