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Allan designs and plants flowering gardens in Montreal, Zone 5 [USDA Zone 4] .

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Sensuality in the Garden

This is the perfect picture for my story. I found it on Kathy Purdy's site Cold Climate Gardening. Click on the image to visit her blog.There are stereotypical images of dress and deportment that we tend to associate with certain kinds of people. Here is an anecdote that pits a preconceived bias against reality. Imagine that you are ten years old, expecting to be imminently attacked by a gang of ruffians and there are no policemen around to protect you. Yes, this is a story about gardening.

When I was young, it was fashionable for teenage boys to emulate the aggressive deportment of the movie characters created by the actors, Marlon Brando and James Dean. This was the first time in our social history that young men began wearing white T shirts, jeans, boots, leather jackets and metal chains. The macho swagger and aggressive body language of these youths made young girls swoon and older people feel threatened. It was not uncommon to see adults cross the street to avoid confronting these frightening types.

So what does this have to do with gardening? Plenty!

At the age of ten years old, my friend and I were waiting for a street car to take us home from an amusement park in the suburbs. A grove of lilac trees near the terminus was at the height of its blooming period. The aroma wafting from the flowers was intense. A group of aggressive-looking young men, clad in black leather and chains, was standing next to the grove, also waiting for the streetcar. We were scared because the media had recently reported that gangs in black leather had been beating up kids like ourselves. While we were planning our strategy to appear invisible, one of the gang members noticed the lilacs and announced that he was about to break off a branch from a lilac tree to bring home to his mother.

That’s not a very scary guy, is it?

After we boarded the street car, we tried to keep as far away as possible from the intimidating gang. We shouldn’t have been concerned because they were engaging in animated banter and guffawing about one thing or another. That is, all of them except for the lilac kidnapper. This Marlon Brando-macho man stood in a subdued state, sniffing his lilacs while grinning sheepishly from ear to ear. Then he offered the flowers to of one of his companions and exclaimed: “Take a whiff of this. Isn’t it amazing?”

That was definitely not a scary guy!

The colors and aroma we find in flower gardens are powerful forces. They relax, they excite, they intoxicate and they are hypnotic; they often send us into a state of transcendence. The assault on our senses is the reason that gardening is more than just a pleasurable hobby. What we create is awesome! Just ask Mr. Macho man.

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Reader Comments (2)

What a wonderful story -- so evocative I could smell the lilacs. It brought back memories of the ring of lilac bushes that grew in the side yard of the tenement house where I lived as a child. There was an open space at the center that was a perfect place for a child to hide out. And, in early May, I could just stay in there for long periods and be surrounded by the scent of lilacs.

November 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJean

That is a charming tale...

November 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCool Garden Things

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