When a gardener visits a forest,
She looks for the color of the leaves and finds the red of the Sassafras trees (Sassafras albidum) in the understory.
She remembers how her Dad tried to dig up sassafras trees and plant them in his garden, never successfully because of the deep tap roots. He always said they couldn’t take our cold winters.
Nearby, she finds still green leaves on a young Tulip Tree (Liriodendron tulipifera).
Many people plant this tree in their gardens because it is the state tree.
She continues on through the forest and though she knows this is not the peak season for wildflowers, she manages to find a few blooms.
She makes a mental note to return to the forest in the spring, when wildflowers should emerge from the carpet of leaves and will be the big show.
She finds and follows the dry stream bed deeper into the forest.
And hopes by spring it is once again flowing with water.
Along the way, she finds this rock which would be a perfect rock to sit on and ponder all that is around her.
She sits there for a moment to try it out and then asks if anyone would kindly carry it out of the forest for her so she can take it home to her own garden, but no one offers. It is just as well, she thinks, because it is probably better to ponder in the forest on such a rock, than in a garden.
Further down the creek bed, she finds the exposed roots of a tree.
She thinks it is the perfect place for forest sprites to live. Forest sprites are the wilder cousins of the garden fairies, if there can be something wilder than a garden fairy.
She continues on quietly, so as not to disturb the sprites, and returns to the pond.
Here she considers what the forest teaches a gardener and finds a simple lesson.
The sum of the whole is greater than the individual parts.
It is good to see the forest to remind us of that we too often get lost in finding a particular plant, or worrying about tall flowers flopping over, or fretting that we will never get the garden cleaned up before it snows. The forest reminds us that the garden can do just fine with far less of our interference than we can imagine.
When a gardener goes to the forest…