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An agave blossom festooned with pom poms thrusts itself into the sky above The Huntington Desert Garden

A person’s relationship with a garden can be one of the most profound relationships we can have. Just as profound as the ones we have with our husbands, our wives, our children. A connection with a garden can be like the one we have with a lover – thrilling, exciting, intoxicating, sometimes even illicit and a bit surreptitious; a fling, or an affair.

I have a relationship like that with a garden, one that isn’t mine. I have to confess that for many years, I have been cheating on my garden with another garden. I love my garden with all of my heart, but things have been rough lately – we are going through some hard times, so when I’m feeling low my mind wanders and my heart is tugged toward this other garden, my mistress, my “other garden”. She is a wonder to behold – similar to my garden, but different in so many ways. She gives me things my garden can’t, and I need her desperately sometimes. Sometimes my need to see her is so intense I feel it physically; an ache, a deep pulling in my center. And I run to her.

Cheerful cassias soften the sharp teeth and hard edges of a bank of Aloes and yuccas. Skirts are kept on the tall succulents, the way I prefer!

She is older, solid and stately – but unusual, quirky, witty. She is expansive, generous, always available to her public, with layers that open up and draw me in further. Even though I know her very well, she blows my mind whenever I walk her paths. I learn new things when we spend time together, I’m often breathless and giddy because the conversation (in my head) is so fast that I am spinning. My heart beats faster, and I laugh out loud.

Of course the newcomers walking by me think I’m crazy – an unusually pale woman in a large black hat and sunglasses, cooing at the cactus and giggling at the way a particular Agave fransozinii is expressing its sense of humor with an extra swoopy undulation of it’s leaves. But only for a moment, because soon they are just as enchanted as I, exclaiming to each other, pointing, laughing loudly and sighing with the wonder of it all.

We who live in drought country don’t clip boxwood balls, we plant echinocactus and mammalaria

That is how magnificent my garden mistress is. Everyone who meets her falls for her. We are under her spell. She is that rare thing that changes many lives, but somehow makes you feel like you are her one and only. I go home, wistful, full of thoughts and feelings, to my own garden. She is waiting patiently, ready for me whenever I might be ready for her.

Echeveria agavoides cuddles up to lava rock, as snow poles stand guard and palm trees observe from afar

My little garden and I will make it, I have no doubt. She is the center of my world. We have grown together and we take risks together, and my garden is always there for me. We mirror each other. She is the expression of who I am, right now. And I admit, she is pretty ragged around the edges, so sometimes I turn away and seek my reflection is something more pleasing, more alluring.  But we will continue to work together, and I will take the joy I have taken in another garden  and put it into us, into our relationship, and we will be stronger than ever.

Visiting this garden and walking these paths countless times over the years has been the most incredible and enjoyable education

Do you cheat? Tell us about your “Other Garden”!

Posted by

Ivette Soler
on March 25, 2015 at 12:12 am, in the category It’s the Plants, Darling, Public Gardens, Real Gardens.

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One Comment

  1. Kevin

    1st January 1970 at 4:00 am

    That’s a lovely desert garden – different from other gardens showcased here but lovely nonetheless!

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