There is a mid-summer bloom of cheerful orange at the edge of our side yard, where the forest meets the lawn. In that otherwise dull corner, a group of bright day lilies grows tall as the days grow hot, bursting into a flame of color each July to reveal somebody else’s patch of flower garden.
Bishop’s weed grows with abandon (as Bishop’s weed will) down the slope from the driveway. Vast patches of yarrow frolic through the fields. A thick stand of tansy, used in Colonial times to season food in place of sage, claims the narrow hill above our vegetable garden.
I know little of the human history of this piece of the earth. It seems probable that it was once pastureland, and there is plenty of evidence of old stone walls, buried now in tall ferns and prickly berry bushes. The house was built in 1929, and we are the fourth set of inhabitants to live in it. The woman from whom we bought the house and land created a large perennial garden in the front yard, taking full advantage of the southern exposure there. We’ve altered that garden, pulling out the ajuga, which continues to grow freely in the lawn, and the ornamental grasses, some of which have transplanted themselves into a tall, oblong patch in the field.
There are plenty of Stella d’Oro daylilies in that garden now – amid the astilbe and hosta, the rudbeckia and evening primrose and sprawling baptisia – but none of the big orange lilies that thrive beyond the edge of our lawn. I’ll probably never know who planted those lilies, or what once grew alongside them. Were they part of a garden, or did they travel there on their own? Were they planted the same time as the heirloom lilac bushes and apple trees? And what, I wonder, will future inhabitants of this place uncover from the plants I tend today?