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June 11, 2007
We had sat under the dogwood tree for an hour, maybe, after a fairly thorough tour of the premises. Our guests certainly didn't owe us even one more ooh or aah about the roses, the tomatoes, the lavender, the remarkable orange blooms on the golden sage.

They began to think about returning to New York. Say, can you take another ten minutes and we could run over to Mary's to see her garden? They had just met Mary, so it wasn't as if they were total strangers. And it was only five minutes away. Practically on their way out of town.

We were already examining the front garden when Mary appeared at the door. The New Yorkers exclaimed over her Red Hot Pokers, her lavender and her hyssop. She had set two potted rose bushes in place for planting when the sun when down. You ain't seen nothin' yet, I told them as we went around back, where a secret garden of green appeared on the other side of the garden gate: many ferns, mysterious groves of large-leaved hostas in the shade, brilliant caladia and jewel-toned coleus. And colossal teapots, giant teacups planted with impatiens, an enormous insect whose legs wrap around his belly to form a hanging pot -- Mary's son is a master ceramist, famous in his profession for the gigantic pieces. He had to install a special kiln to fire them.

We sat on the old brick patio and talked about plants. We declined Mary's offer of a cold drink -- it really was time to move on. The girls had a meeting back in the city. I had a Bible study at six.

But once we were in the car, I realized that we were right near Chuck and Charlotte's house and that it would really be a shame to miss their garden. They were out on the back porch, listening to the radio and drinking iced tea, but they were happy to show us around and talk about their plants, the way they work with their abundance of shade, the mural on the side of their shed, made of broken pieces of mirror and sea glass, a work in progress by one of their daughters. A narrow path winds its way through the plants and all the way around the house, an irresistible invitation to continue the quest for more and more beauty. Mary Jane and Chuck discovered early on that they had both worked for the same company, and they talked shop for a while as the rest of us talked plants.

Now it really was time to go. They waved us out of their block and went around back to their iced tea. We wound through a few other streets on the way to drop me off back at my place, so they could finally get on their way. We took the scenic route: more gardens.

We were an invasive species yesterday, my guests and I, no doubt about it. People who love their gardens, though, usually also love to welcome people to them. On a summery afternoon, when beauty is all around, it would be a shame not to share it.
Want to see the giant teapots? Visit Evan Jones Studios at
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