The Surprise Garden
was August of 1994, and I was preparing to order bulbs for fall planting
when a young girl named Kerrie, who worked in the office next to me,
asked if she could order some. I
only knew her slightly but she knew I loved flowers and knew a little
about them, so she asked me to help her choose and, of course, I was
delighted to help.
it happened, Kerrie lived in Providence,
and her landlord told her she
could plant a flower garden if she wished.
There had been a flower garden there once; however, it had become
overgrown with tree roots and weeds. Kerrie had her work cut out for
her. The only plants
remaining there were two very old rosebushes.
They did produce beautiful roses, she said, even though they
didn’t get very much sun any longer.
chose spring bulbs, knowing they would bloom before the leaves of the
trees shaded the area, perennials would have to be shade lovers.
Kerrie filled out her order and handed it to me that same day
with her check. I tucked it
safely in the bulb catalog and was putting it into my desk drawer when
someone else asked to see it. I
transferred Kerrie’s order to my purse and when later that day I took
it out, I noticed her address. That’s
strange, I thought. That
couldn’t possibly be her address.
I began to feel goose bumps, like I never had before.
My heart was racing as I ran to Kerrie’s desk.
“Do you really live at
I was seven years old, my grandparents bought the house at
I was grown and had my own young family, Nonna shared her perennial
plants with me, including the peonies.
She was so pleased that I loved gardening as much as she did.
I’ve moved the peonies with me and they flourish still in my
garden. I have shared them
with relatives and, of course, my children, and they will always be a
remembrance of my grandmother.
the fall, Kerrie prepared the garden and she and I planted the bulbs,
and added some perennials and anxiously waited for spring to see the
blooms. It was an incredible
experience to be planting in that garden again.
It brought back so many memories.
Kerrie was excited with her garden and I was thrilled to be part
of that excitement.
think, knowing my grandmother, she must have wanted her garden spruced
up and found a way to accomplish that.
I suppose most people would believe that it was a coincidence
that Kerrie moved to that address and asked if she could plant a garden.
When her landlord agreed, it was coincidence again that she would
ask me to help. Kerrie
has been inspired to grow flowers, that’s enough for me.
As for me, I treasure all the butterflies I see, but whenever I
see a white butterfly sipping nectar from my flowers, I always ask,
“Nonna, is that you?”
July 7, 2004