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View from the Garden Gate

by | Jun 8, 2015

“You got strawberries?” A boy on a bike paused at the entrance to Lisa’s Garden.

“Nope,” I replied. “Just flowers.” He rode on, with a puzzled backward glance. Crowds of people were parking along the street and strolling across the grass, stopping to admire a dazzling red zinnia or a tangle of fragrant sweet peas.

Just flowers.

Saturday, June 6, people came from all over Hampton Roads and as far away as Winston Salem, NC to enjoy Lisa’s flower farm for whatever personal reason they had that did not involve strawberries.











By the time Lisa gave her scheduled talk out under the shade of tall gum trees, probably fifty or sixty had gathered. Throughout the day others came to join her continuous looping tour as she showed off her fresh tender annuals just bursting into bloom as well as her thriving cool flowers, still blooming after their winter’s rest and spring resurrection.


The yellow door of the private warehouse was thrown open for shopping just this once. Gardeners browsed to find flower seeds or a Japanese hand hoe or a new pair of gloves. Some brought lists from their neighbors.

My job was to be the gatekeeper and welcome contingent.


I had brought my knitting for slow times, but by afternoon, I had managed only a few rows.


While red-tailed hawks circled and goldfinches swooped in and out of the bachelor’s buttons, the rain held off. But questions came in a steady downpour:

“Can somebody show me exactly where to make the first cut on a zinnia plant?”


“Can I plant sunflowers inside like I do zinnias?”

“Will there be lisianthus in August to match a sage green and rose pink wedding?”

“Will my tobacco flowers mess with my tomatoes?”

“Why did I see so few butterflies in my garden last year?”

“Can I drive the red golf cart?” (an eager boy who had come with his grandmother!)

Lisa walked along and never stopped for a breath as she answered questions like these and many more. Whether her stand of rye grass gone to seed could be called cat tails. Whether they could pet Babs.


And whether they could take flowers home with them.

Yes, they could. Many left smiling with bouquets held on their arms like precious babies. And all left with visions of flowers in every bright color and every delicate pastel hue—a once-a-year gift from the gardener. Thank you, Lisa!