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Ants: The Good, the
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Landscaping with Good
Speaking of Spinach
Invasive Plant Notes
Harvest Time Puzzle
Go Native with
Can You Identify This
Homing in on Jojoba
The Plant Vampires
Of Friendships &
Fall Garden Festival
S P E C I A L F E A T U R E
Of Friendships and Gardens
by Sandra Forsey,
Master Gardener Intern
For most of my life I've been driven by a deep
passion for both art and nature, often drawing artistic inspiration from the
colors and lines and forms found in the outdoor world. I have seldom spoken
with others about this passion because I felt they might not appreciate or
But then I met Sydney.
I first became acquainted with Sydney six years ago, when she moved into my
neighborhood. At first our relationship was a low-maintenance affair that
benefited us both; we shared many of the same interests, especially gardening,
and I found that many tasks were made easier when we worked together. But then,
like the aging of a particularly fine wine, our relationship slowly blossomed
into a deep bond and friendship as we discovered that we were true kindred
spirits. Sidney's calm exhortations of "Why not, let's just try it" would often
turn doubt into action, and before long our gardens began to flourish and grow
along with our souls.
From throwing eighty bags of dirt over a six-foot fence as the other empties
them into raised garden beds in the heat of June, to setting up or repairing
drip systems, each of us always knows the other will be happy to help out. We
love spending the day at the nursery, learning about and selecting plants and
then buying them in bulk. The saying "Our eyes are larger than our stomachs" no
longer applies. Now it's "Our eyes are larger than the back of our car."
At the end of each season we visit the other's garden to help trim, rip out,
mow, clean up, and load trash into the trailer to take to the dump. We come
away achy and tired, but also with a feeling of fellowship and accomplishment
that you don't often experience in daily life. Once when the plants in a large
flower bed suddenly died, spirits were quickly lifted when the other showed up
with a couple flats of flowers and said "Come on lets plant these, it won't take
Somewhere along the way we decided our gardens could benefit from the
addition of a few pieces of art. We settled on iron, but trying to find someone
who worked with iron and thought like both an artist and a woman was virtually
impossible. I knew I could meet at least one of these criteria so, I decided to
sign up for a welding class at the community college.
Although welding turned out to be much more tedious than I had realized, after
completing the course I assured Sydney that I could teach her to do it. We
split the price of a MIG welder, a plasma cutter and few other tools and went to
As we saw projects progress from vague ideas to a few pencil sketches to final
design to the actual welding, our enthusiasm and passion escalated. We set
deadlines for completion of our projects, but as with the chess set "Strategy,"
we were often having so much fun that the deadline became secondary as we worked
straight through from six in the morning until after midnight.
With other projects such as the sand pendulum "Inertia" and the red person
"Breaking Free," our schedules and commitments didn't allow us to devote that
much time during the day, so we waited until we had put our families to bed to
go to work. On those occasions we would work until two or three in the morning,
and diet coke and Haagen-Dazs never tasted better than they did those nights.
We laughingly agreed that no slumber party was ever as much fun.
We often refer to our gardening endeavors as "Survival of the Fittest." (Hence,
the inspiration for the sculpture of the same name). We sometimes decide to
incorporate a plant that supposedly won't flourish in our zone. When that
happens, we cross our fingers and just try it. Amazingly, we sometimes find
that we can get it to grow quite beautifully here.
There's a powerful message in my relationship with Sydney that I would like to
share with others: If you're very lucky, you might someday cultivate a close
friendship at the same time you're cultivating a garden. I feel blessed that
the seeds of our friendship were planted in the right season and the perfect
zone, and have been able to flourish and bloom. We've formed a perennial
friendship, and the plants in both our gardens have benefited from that bond.
I suppose there is one friend in the life of each of us who seems not
a separate person, however dear and beloved, but an expansion, an interpretation
of one's self, the very, meaning of one's soul.
Maricopa County Master Gardener Volunteer Information
Last Updated October 4, 2003
Author: Lucy K. Bradley, Extension Agent Urban Horticulture, University of Arizona Cooperative Extension, Maricopa County
© 1997 The University of Arizona, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Cooperative Extension in Maricopa County
Comments to Maricopafirstname.lastname@example.org 4341 E. Broadway Road, Phoenix, AZ 85040,
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