My love of plants began at a very young age. Norma Lang, my second mom, took me wild flower collecting when I was just five years old. My mom had plants in every window of our apartment. They were simple Mother-in-law’s tongues, Sansevieria trifusciata, but they reached all the way up to the top window frame which was a good seven feet off the floor. In high school I took an after-school job at Felton’s Flowers on Grant Street in Buffalo, New York. My job was to water all the dish gardens and the plants for those gardens. I also took care of all the cut flowers which the flower shop received every week. Mildred Felton started to get me into design, but I moved on to university and worked only holidays at Felton’s.
I started to collect houseplants and had quite an array over several years. I landscaped the interior of my first home. I currently have several large cacti, succulents, Agave and Aloe cultivars. My interest in outdoor plants came with my first home. Japanese maples, Junipers, Scots pine and Arbor vitae circled that home. When I moved to a larger house with more land, I transplanted several large trees and I began to become a Coniferite, planting over 78 cone-bearing plants at my new property. My friend, Steve Courtney, current manager of Hidden Lake Gardens got me hooked on conifers. I became a member of the American Conifer Society and then editor of Conifer Quarterly. I even discovered how easy it was to grow large and small trees in pots. My home is surrounded by different sized beds with a different color palette for each. If it can grow in my USDA Zone 6 it will probably find a place in one of my planting beds.
Plants of all kinds and shapes and colors soothe the soul. They teach us. They nurture us as much as we nurture them. They give us purpose and cause us to become their stewards. Sometimes their funky shapes make us laugh. They never argue with us, but rather they call us to be with them. We ooh and ah every new bud or leaf. The marvel of newness is never far away. It is rebirth over and over again. That’s why I fell in love with plants.