I miss my neighbor Phyllis. She's been my gardening sage for the past twenty years. When we moved in, she told us that if we didn't like a plant it was a weed. "Just pull it out," she said. "No use keeping something you don't like." It was good advice for our garden, and works just as well with most things in life. If you don't like something, pull it out of your life.
Well, I wasn't ready for Phyllis to be pulled out of my life.
She got old, as people do, and can no longer remember enough minute by minute to live alone. So, it's much better for her to live where she can be watched and cared for.
Her yard has been something I've watched as she--and her late husband George--cared for it these past twenty years. It's abundant. Ornamental flowering trees ring the house, and an orchard of fruit trees and vines spread across the double lot.
Her children are planning an extravagant 90th birthday party for Phyllis to hold court in the backyard this July. There's nothing she wants more than to spend time at her home.
So, I'm painting parts of it as a gift for her to enjoy when she can't be there.
Here's a painting of her backyard and two renderings of her rhododendron, the crown jewel of her front yard. Which would you prefer, if you were a 90-year-old?