DescriptionShamans say plants have spirit medicine. They have for me, helping me find solace, solidity, and silence when it felt like everybody else was screaming.
Perhaps during my teen years, before my father threatened to put me in Military School, I discovered a large Juniper that held me gently in presence. Grace, my maternal grandmother, had gardens in at least two towns, growing plentifully in Illinois soil. She’d only a fifth-grade education, but her hands read volumes of tilth and harvest. Her letters told enthusiastically of compost & compassion. When I moved to the Gulf Coast, I never went back physically, but my blood flows in a river of gardening love.
Orange clay, here in Virginia, is fertile; adding manure & mulch is worth the effort. Loudoun County, my ex-husband told me, was once orchard grass and dairy farms. McMansion traffic belies the Old Dominion’s “Dillion Rule,” giving speculators first grabs on fertile and vulnerable plots. We moved near Charles Town, and his driving the manure spreader from Grubstake to our large garden proved a somewhat death-defying act!
Our marriage crumbled when I spent months going door-to-door raising money for potable, reliable, water’s legal fund. (“Walnut Grove” homes, more than 150, were watered from a hand-dug, shallow well of plantation origins!)
My mixed borders, our northeast shelter belt of white spruce, and large gardens really sold our home - with Mr. Grubb’s oak floors.
Since then, my love of gardening has served public, private, soul-healing and grieving families. I hope I never stop.
-Story contributed by Virginia A.