I splurged big time at the Virginia Botanical Garden Sale. To my delight, they had a sizeable number of selections in the “shade” section. The large section of my transformed garden is behind a hedge and under a tree, so definitely qualifies for needing shade-prefering plants. During my search via internet and local nurseries, I found very few plants that qualified. Some would qualify as “partial-shade” tolerant. But the majority of plants that would survive a Minnesota winter required full sun plus rich, well-draining soil. Even with bags of compost drug in, my shade garden did not qualify. So when I showed up to support the local sale, my expectations of finding something were minimal at most. But to my shock and delight, I had choices!

Now, admittedly, some had no white plastic markers that said what they were. I have compensated for their lack by creating my own plastic sticks, with a “?” on it, followed by “Bot. Garden Sale” underneath. That way, even though I don’t know what it is, next spring IF it survives, I will know it is an official, planted plant, and not a weed. To give myself credit, IF things survive, I will have a nice variety in terms of the size and coloration of the leafs, as well as the height variation. Two are to be “large clumping”. One was labeled a lily.  I thought all lilies need full sun, but per the plastic identifier, this one prefers shade, yet grows tall. Who knows?

One disconcerting plant was a little one that a staff person praised for its two-toned flowers, even though it was labeled a “ground cover.” Worried, I would swear that I had pulled some of those out, because they looked like weeds. But when I looked it up once home, it was called a weed preventer, since it doesn’t allow other “weeds” to grow. One person’s weed is another’s flower. It now has its own plastic spike label, to remind me.

IF things survive, I will take pictures and seek out a Master Gardener to help me identify them. Until then, rather than bare ground, my garden is now in place, even with each plant having room to expand! I am delighting in it, both in what it currently is, and in what might be next spring and summer. Before the sale plantings, my original plantings have even survived a hail storm, which I find this side of miraculous. If they can survive hail, maybe they will survive below-zero temperature! Coming from local gardens improves the odds.

This all reminds me of an incredible PBS documentary called “Cave of Forgotten Dreams.” The video is on the ancient (“caveman”) paintings on the walls of some caves in France. Until I saw it, I labeled cavemen drawings as the archetype of what is now called “primitive” art. Basic, child-like, with no real skill shown in terms of technique or conveyance of image. But these paintings convey movement, three dimensions, and are indeed the thing of dreams. They are impressively well done. Yet they were created thousands of years before Jesus walked on the earth. They make us redefine our dismissive label of “primitive.” Whoever made them were truly gifted artists. They saw, and through their work others also saw and remembered.

To see with multiple sets of eyes is a gift: you see the present, the future, and that which is timeless. I am thinking of the extremely baby (the trunk under an 1/8th of an inch thick) maple tree that I am cultivating. It arrived by accident with a batch of iris plants. Yet it has three very large (for the size of the trunk) magnificent maple leaves. I have planted it, and surrounded it with stones so that it does not get mowed down. Is it a maple tree? In one sense, it doesn’t even qualify as a sapling. Yet it IS: I see it with two kinds of sight. It is now MY maple tree. Will it survive winter? I have no idea. But if it does not, my TREE will have died. Should it survive, it will take decades, after I have died even, before it looks like a respectable tree. But for right now, that does not matter. I can “see” it. Hopefully similar to how God sees me: there, yet not there yet, but still the essence is undeniable.