By Faith L. Wylie,
Written March17, 2016. Note: The fifth-generation spring bulbs planted by my friends are thriving and so am I, cancer-free for four and a half years.
Crocus were first to push through winter leaves with their small lavender flowers. A few weeks ago, hyacinths shot up stems of purple, pink and white. Now, the tulips stand tall and lush, with buds ready to open in a riot of color.
The color perks my spirit as it brings thoughts of many friends.
For 18 months, I was not allowed to dig in dirt. Not even houseplants. When the cancer doctors said, “Don’t dig,” that’s exactly what I wanted to do. Never mind that I struggled to consume a healthy meal or stand up without grabbing the wall.
Family members, volunteer students and special friends took pity on my poor front flower beds by pulling weeds, helping mulch and planting annuals. A year ago January, Kay Odell and Betty O’Donnell appeared at my front door with gardening tools and spring bulbs.
Their gracious act of friendship provided anticipation of new life. The flowers reassured me that life bloomed after a period of inaction. As Lady Bird Johnson said, “Where flowers bloom, so does hope.”
My son and daughter-in-law gave me a gardening guide for Christmas that year. I read about gardening as I watched the new tulips bloom. “The Gardener’s Essential Companion” provided new insight into tulips (and many other topics).
The tulips that returned this spring are not last year’s tulips. Tulip bulbs bloom once then die, according to Dora Galitzki, the former gardening columnist for the New York Times.
“Within each tulip bulb are the beginnings of several daughter bulbs,” she wrote. “Food energy is devoted not to the survival of the mother bulb but to producing a flower and to growing these daughters. After flowering, the mother bulb is exhausted, dies, and gives up its reserves to its daughter bulbs—but not equally. One or more of the daughters becomes strong enough to flower the following year, as the new mother or mothers.”
Thanks to friends, my garden has produced many healthy daughters.