Sunday Opinion: The Plants


My enchantment with plants dates back so long I can hardly remember how it started.  To the best of my recollection, a brief residence in North Carolina after I graduated from college got me interested in orchids.  Who knows what prompted that.  A plant at the grocery store checkout counter-it could have been.  Within just a few months, I was spending more on orchids than groceries.  My rental house in Chapel Hill had orchids in pots and on boards hanging from the trees.  The mild climate made it easy to cultivate them outdoors.  The slipper orchids-loved them.  Who knows why or how, but I became intensely interested in plants.  All of a sudden, I was noticing them everywhere.  In parking lots, and in residential yards.  In buildings.  In wild places, left to their own devices.  What was growing behind the garage, or at the ocean shore.  The plants-loved each and every one of them.


The moment that I became aware of plants was not a momentous day.  Just an ordinary moment.  But in the years since, I can see that the life of the plants has altered and greatly influenced the course of my life.  Wildflowers.  trees.  tree peonies.  rock garden plants.  herbaceous perennials hardy in my zone.  the annuals that live but one season.  Ferns.  Dahlias.  Woody shrubs.  herbs.  evergreens.  succulents.  vegetables. bulbs, espaliers. moss and lichens.  Tropical plants.  The plant kingdom-the organizing metaphor, the language upon which a landscape or garden design is built.  Why am I thinking about this?  Our spring fair opened yesterday.  10 growers brought their spring plants to exhibit and sell.  We moved our fair inside-the cold, blustery, and snowy weather was so terrible.  As much as I hated to host a spring fair when fair spring weather was not in the forecast, I was ready for a spring celebration.  Lots of other people were ready for spring too-notwithstanding the current cold and gray.


As reluctant as I was to move the growers with their plants inside our shop, they were pleased.  And the many hundreds of people who came today were happy for a venue indoors too.  Our warehouse style garage was packed with people all day long-looking at the plants.  I was astonished to hear the general consensus from all of the growers in attendance. We like being indoors, in close quarters.  The feeling-community-like.  I personally observed gardeners in that garage for hours-looking over the plants.  They were dry, warm, and comfortable.  They had lots of company.  Why should I be surprised?  It is the plants- around which no end of different people express their delight and connection with the natural world.  There was a lot of talk.  A lot of looking.  A lot of exchange.  I feel certain, after a Saturday that was jam packed from start to finish, this spring fair was above all, about the plants.


I had lots of confirmation today that there is an instinct in people to make something grow.  Better than that-a love for making something grow.   People who had never met before, were deep in conversation, and making notes. Over the plants.  The peonies from Wiegands and the hellebores from Arrowhead Alpines-sold out.  The wildflowers from Starr Foster-all but gone.  I was so worried about the weather for our fair.  Tonight I realize that the gardening people and the plants made the weather a side story.  The main attraction?  Making something grow.

gardener-to-be.jpgAnd then of course, passing that on.


  1. great post and a great picture at the end.

  2. Okay. The last photo has me crying like a baby. LOL!
    I certainly hope that my daughter shares my passion for plants as she grows. The garden is my sanctuary…my church. I hope she finds the same contentment I do in the dirt.



  3. LOVE THIS POST!! and I love your store!!

  4. Lovely. I agree with Andie…I am really touched by that last photo. Love the little girl’s floral print leggings!

  5. “There is a garden in every childhood, an enchanted place where colors are brighter, the air softer, and the morning more fragrant than ever again”…Elizabeth Lawrence

  6. Silvia Weber says

    It’s fun to see plant lovers bundled up in coats, hats, scarves, etc., shopping at the DGW’s Spring Fair – so typical of this “late” spring were having! So badly wanted to drive up for the event this weekend, unfortunately Gerry, traveling on business, was stranded in Chicago, then St. Louis due to the severe storms all week. We had to play catch up in the office this weekend;( The plants looked beautiful and irresistible! Thanks for sharing the scene in your post- enjoyed seeing and reading about it. Hope to see you soon!

    • Deborah Silver says

      Silvia, it did not seem like the weather kept anyone away! We have 65 degrees in our forecast today-could it be true?? Hope the weather is moderating where you are-and that Gerry made it home. Deborah

  7. When I was a child visiting my grandparents in Massachusetts I LOVED the time spent wandering about their garden. Peeking through a white lattice fence into the neighbor’s yard I was entranced by the view of a tiny pond, wrapped by hosta with the glimmer of goldfish in the water and a bright gazing ball standing over the scene – it was like looking into a jewel box. My grandparents were constantly chasing me away from the fence, afraid of interfering with the neighbor’s privacy. Although I cannot remember the colour of the gazing ball I have kept with me the shape of the leaves that danced and glowed over my head in my favorite place of refuge – a soft bed, always warm and fragrant and in a spot too small for the hovering adults. I would be dragged out of my bower by the heels and scolded about getting my dress dirty. I did not realize it until many years later that my refuge was actually the compost pile. To this day I can’t quite get enough of the smell of fresh cut grass, pinched back marigolds, and over ripe tomatoes. My own garden was not complete until the lattice fencing, the pond, the hostas and the gazing ball eventually found their places – and it wasn’t until they did that I remembered the summer when I was 2 1/2, visiting at my grandparents home while recovering from an accident. I enjoy my living as a garden designer. The tree which graced my bed of composting grass and coffee grounds was a silver maple. Visiting nieces, nephews and cousins disappear from the house as soon as they arrive to eventually return hot, grubby and smiling from ear to ear with stories to tell after spending the day in my garden

  8. Julia Hofley says

    Super fun weekend shopping with my gardening girlfriends and seeing all kinds of folks venturing out with the spring gleam in their eyes, despite the weather. I LOVED the plant selection of unusual and hard-to-find plants and of course the handsome squirrel from DGW that now graces the steps at our front door. Discussing plants with the vendors and the gardeners was a welcome fix for this winter-weary gardener. I’m grateful you moved it indoors as it definitely was more comfortable to exhibit and shop, and the shop was filled to the brim with new merchandise. The Branch planter boxes and that stunning fountain were displayed beautifully at the entrance to the shop and I liked seeing them all together. I tried to pick up a corner of a box…geez, that’s not going anywhere. Bravo to you all for organizing an action-packed weekend for gardeners ready to start the 2013 season.

    • Deborah Silver says

      Thanks a million, Julia. We all had a great time too-I was so happy to see how many people came. So much discussion about plants! Today we are having some weather I wish we had had yesterday-but no doubt the weather was a sideline topic over the weekend. It was all about the plants. Deborah

  9. the cold weather & having to move the event indoors may have made the fair goers even more appreciative of that wonderful collection of green and promise of spring you provided!

  10. That photo at the end. Priceless. I’m going to get some floral pants like that! Precious expression on her face and precious post by you! I eagerly await each of your posts as they always speak of the connection gardening brings to our lives. There’s so much more than just leaves and dirt between the lines. Keep it up! We all need you!

    • Deborah Silver says

      That little girl’s Mom is an avid gardener. I can see on her face that her Mom has passed a love of the flowers along to her. She never set that pot of primula down the entire time she was here!

  11. Thank you for sharing you experiences, Deborah. This looks like a wonderful day.

  12. Paula McColgan says

    Absolutely LOVE BOXWOOD—-they just talk to me—truly make a distintive statement either sitting pretty in a great antique urn or grouped together to form their own garden—marvelous for cutting snippets for a tiny windowsill display or to grace a big arrangement—here in cold New Hampshire as well as downeast Maine I have been blessed with successful growing and abundance of joy— in November it is a monumental job to pole, rope, and wrap the DARLINGS in burlap to protect them from cruel winter winds and sun-burn—–most rewarding come Spring for they enjoyed a good sleepy winter and grew more beautiful,plump and vigorious——photos to follow!!!!

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