Sunday, March 8, 2009

HYDRANGEA HEAVEN

Enter Hydrangea Heaven, as I did, with hydrangea blossoms caressing each side of my car. Penny McHenry is Hydrangea Heaven. Like her frontyard, above?

I met Penny over 15 years ago at a GA Perennial Plant Assoc. meeting. Wanting a good seat I plopped next to a woman I didn't know, Penny. We talked before the meeting, and long after the meeting. She ended by inviting me to lunch the next day. The day I drove up her driveway.
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A view of Penny's deck, below.
Penny was bold & open. Before leaving the meeting I knew Penny had a grown daughter that had been murdered. A fact that didn't scare, induce pity, or curiosity in me. An unexpected reaction in Penny's eye's. She adored me for it. The same type of gruesome murder had occurred to my Mother's 1st cousin. I'd grown up knowing horrible things do happen.
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Penny received 2 hydrangea plants amongst many flowers after her daughter died. She wasn't much of a gardener. Her backyard was mostly ivy but she did plant the hydrangeas.
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And she tended them. Soon she was making babies with them. Putting a brick or rock on a branch, holding it to the ground, until it rooted. Transplanting the new plants to fill up her garden. Making more & more of her babies. Soon she was gardening all the time. Pathways, ponds, focal points, a larger deck with a gazebo for dining & more. Everything engulfed in a sea of blue mophead hydrangeas.
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Neighbors began to talk about Penny's garden. Talk got so far it went to Southern Living magazine. When they shot her garden it made the cover.
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Penny began lecturing about hydrangeas to garden clubs, then flower shows, then symposiums. She opened Hydrangea Heaven to garden club tours & meetings. Her garden was more incredible than any of the spectacular pictures taken of it. To experience the combination of Penny & Hydrangea Heaven together was to intuitively take in the fact that you wanted this for yourself. You wanted what Penny had. A life of joy lived amongst beauty.
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Remember where it began. Her daughter was murdered.
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.You know I'll write more about Penny, I haven't even taken us to that first lunch. When I began writing this post I only knew it was time to finally write about Penny. She died March 2, 2006. Now I realize it's not an accidental posting. Today is Penny's birthday.
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Garden & Be Well, XO Tara


2 comments:

lili11 said...

Those were lovely pictures. Lovely garden. No wonder it found its way to Southern Living magazine. I'm sorry she's no longer with us. Anyway, happy birthday, Penny. Blossom Blooms

Lori Buff said...

Whenever someone I love dies I plant something in their honor. For me it's nicer than looking at a name and some dates on polished stone. I'm not condemning that practice, it's just that growing something works better for me. It seems to have worked out even better for Penny. You were so fortunate to have known her as you did.