The Social Gardener

Ann Murphy (left), editor of RAG,
and Whitney Rideout (aka Gardennia
nutii) at a Farmington Gardens
gardening workshop.

By Gardennia nutii
I moved to Oregon 15 years ago to take a new job. My move here was right after I graduated college and was a solitary one. I developed the usual set of friends from work, a small handful of whom remain tried-and-true friends. But the wealth of close friends I have now came through a shared passion for gardening. Until a few days ago, I hadn’t really noticed. I found myself walking around an amazing garden and afterwards sipping wine with about 20 other plant nerds. We were chatting and laughing about life and our gardens when it hit me: I have some amazing friends and the majority of them came into my life through gardening. How wonderful! I’m not just feeding my yard and soul but my social life as well.

Upon reflection, I now see that my garden provides the perfect analogy to my circle of friends. At first I had a solitary tree in the middle of a big field; I enjoyed the setting but it didn’t offer a lot of shelter or interest. Years of plant sales, lectures and study groups later, plants slowly began to fill the field, knowledge on how to care for them grew, and a support group emerged that goes beyond the garden and into life’s trials. The bonds to my plants and people have sprouted and grown and now I find myself in a rich setting with a lot of beauty, depth and interest. I have a garden and a set of friends I plan on nurturing for decades…and the knowledge that there is always room for one more plant (and friend).