Lessons Learned by Allan Hunter Gardens I’m not much of a gardener. I have a small slightly scruffy yard – which is a step up from the place I lived previously. There the yard was overshadowed by a large, sprawling locust tree under which nothing would grow. When the tree had to be taken down I discovered that, in fact, nothing at all could grow on that barren urban soil – except Locust trees. So you can imagine my delight when spring came along and my present garden erupted in patches of blue flowers I had not planted, and a neglected Azalea produced vast quantities of blossoms. The kids (aged 3 and 5) also enjoyed it. And they showed their enthusiasm by wanting to pick as many of the blue flowers as they could, so they could make ‘flower soup’ as they called it, in a pink plastic pail. I could feel myself wince. This was the garden, for goodness sakes, this was Nature doing its thing and we should not be picking it or trampling it. I wanted to tell them to leave the flowers alone. I was surprised by the strength of my reaction. So I took a deep breath. It was then that I recalled my own feelings about gardens and flowers. I remembered going on a walk with my parents when I was quite young and finding a huge field entirely full of what I think were cowslips, bright yellow flowers on stems about eight inches tall. I picked them freely and presented them, proudly, to my mother. What she was going to do with an armful of yellow flowers I did not consider. We were a long walk from home, and the cowslips wilted badly along the way. I don’t think any of them made it back to the vase on the dining room table. I recalled another memory, of the bike track we kids had made among the trees of Mrs. Hobdell’s garden. Her woodland paradise became a racetrack, and the daffodils probably never recovered. Or the time we drove a go-kart around my uncle Roger’s field where he and his service buddies played soccer every Sunday in Fall. We tore up the turf with our wild side-ways skids. No one had told us not to. No one punished us. We were just being kids. And that was when I looked up at the girls, picking flowers and reaching up for the azalea blossoms, stepping in all the muddiest parts of the garden, and saw the beauty of the moment. As far as I’m concerned from now on they can pick all the flowers they want. [from:]