At the Edge of a Parking Lot

Drive over the little bridge to the town parking lot on Rock City Road, and you will find at its borders a wonderful garden -- full of color and burgeoning life. At the inner edge, pushing up through the very gravel, are sundrop primroses, whose pale yellow, cupped blooms contrast beautifully with the lavender-blue rays of chicory flowers. Pleasant field daisies and rosy, red clovers droning with bumblees abound. There are tart-tasting sorrels, which look like shamrocks bearing little golden stars. Modest herb Robert is present, with tiny pink-striped flowers and deeply-cut, ferny foliage.

Here is the ubiquitous prunella, its strange flower petals appearing at a distance to be fashioned from amethyst velvet. The wild snapdragon grows nearby, aptly named “butter and eggs” for its cheerful yellow and orange colors. Grasses gone to seed present a graceful counterpoint to the bright-hued flowers and the large rounded leaves of coltsfoot sprawled across the ground.

There is a stand of milkweeds, whose large fleshy leaves provide a fine meal for a gaily striped Monarch butterfly caterpillar. He shares the feast with several bristly black, white and orange creatures, the young of the milkweed tiger moth.

Farther back, there is the elegant Queen Anne’s lace, whose dainty white flowers bend outward making of each plant a bouquet. The flowers that have already dried, curl in upon themselves, forming little “birds’ nests.”

Next, one encounters a drainage ditch. Here, are the splendid spires of gaudy purple loosestrife, rising over six feet high! It is flourishing amidst very robust cattails already bearing their fat, deep-brown catkins.

Dragonflies and damselflies dart about on gauzy wings, their bodies like burnished metal gleaming in the sunlight. Black swallowtail butterflies sip nectar from the huge flowerheads of tall Joe-Pye-weed; the flowers are the color of raspberry ice cream. Proud goldenrod lifts its plumes high behind masses of jewelweed, covered with spurred and speckle-throated, glowing, orange trumpets.

Between these flowers and the woods, there are tangles of the “multiflora” rose, now forming hips, elderberry shrubs with clusters of deep blue berries, and even viburnum, whose white flowers have given way to pendulous, glistening red fruit. Hidden in these bushes an impertinent catbird “meows” at the intruder. Wild grapevines festoon the saplings and Virginia creepers show their first brilliant red leaves-- a portent of the fall display to come.

This is a garden that needs no pesticide, no fungicide, no fertilizer, no watering nor expensive fencing to keep out hungry creatures. What an excellent garden this is!

More Articles by Miriam Sanders