I never appreciated how gardening can bring folks together. I should have caught on to this a long time ago having, as I mentioned before, grown up in a family of gardeners. But that always seemed to me to just be a Doyle Family kind of phenomenon that did not spread beyond the backyards of folks I was related to. But when I think back on my childhood days, I must have know, if only by osmosis that gardening, like raising a child, needs a village. Didn’t my mother used to call the Agriculture Department of Ohio State and consult with the experts there? And wasn’t she intimately familiar with every garden centre within a 20 mile radius of her Cleveland Avenue home? And weren’t all of those folks part of her “community” where she collected and dispensed best methods for planting anything? You bet they were.
It’s a pity it took me so long to trust my own fledgling skills and muster up enough courage to “join” my neighbourhood gardeners’ group. I never liked teams and groups and clubs. I always put it down to growing up with 14 people so never having to join anything if I wanted company. This suited my shy ways just fine, thank-you-very-much. But since coming up here to Oh Canada, I have tried my best to push the comfort levels of my introvert self and meet people. It hasn’t been easy but I’ve been doing it.
I live in a really cool, friendly neighbourhood. There’s always something going on so, if you want to push your shyness levels just a bit, you can bite the bullet and get involved. It wasn’t easy for me, but I started to volunteer to work on this or that event. The first few times I did it, I just did the work and kept myself to myself. But slowly, painfully slowly, I started to meet folks. The best thing that I did was walk up the street to a meeting of the gardening ladies. Everything changed after that — both with my social life in the neighbourhood and, especially, with my confidence in this gardening stuff. It’s all good.
At our annual Plant Fair today, I wasn’t shy at all about offering advise with selections of plants for the new gardeners. If I didn’t know something, there were a half-dozen people there who did. Folks walked away with free advise, free pots, free plants and an appreciation of the neighbourhood where they live. While I was there, a young woman came up to me and said, “I know you from somewhere.” We sort of stared at one another and then started to do an inventory of our Toronto lives. It happened we were both working on our Master degrees at the same time in Environmental Studies — 20 years ago — and now we’re neighbours who know each other’s names.