We moved to our home on the edge of the boreal forest in Northwestern Ontario in 1997. I was thrilled with the trees, shrubs and tiered flower beds had been established in the deeply sloped backyard.
Soon the thrill turned to feelings of inadequacy. What did I know about perennials and trees, after all? In our previous homes I'd planted a few annuals and shrubs, but this was a much larger garden, a much bigger commitment.
The first year I watered and observed. I gradually learned the sun-loving perennials growing in those tiered beds, but for the most part, I felt like the caretaker, not the gardener.
It took a little guts and some success for the garden to become fully mine. I discovered I loved amending soil, planning a design and adding new plants. I have never looked back. My "inherited" garden gives me joy every day.
I remember trailing my mother in the slanting light of a summer's evening. She was planting or weeding beneath a barberry hedge at our Southern Ontario home. A pony-tailed four-year-old, I loved the burgundy leaf colour, even as I learned to respect the prickles.
We would go on to live in other houses, but my mother always made time to plant flowers and trees. Flowers were for cheer; trees were for legacy. I now know my mother's garden knowledge was simple, but sound. Water and good soil were the key to everything.
I realize now that by trailing behind, I learned there is something rich and satisfying in planting and tending. Today I am on the cusp of becoming a Master Gardener. I am grateful for inheriting the love of gardening.