During my twenty three years of growing and selling green things I have met many people, some are cooler than others. Some come in here looking for landscaping to embellish there house, business or even pole barn. Some come in looking for something to do. Some come in for both of the above, but start developing a curiosity and even an addiction to some of the finer things in the garden as I call them. These would be the Japanese Maples, Stewartia, Koussa Dogwood, and dwarf conifers in general. If I come off as a plant snob by calling these the finer things, forgive me. Some of the perennials and shrubs are the finer things as well.
Occasionally I help these folks in creating their design and in starting their own personal collection of plants. I help them navigate the various nuances of their geographical area and the various microclimates and light conditions that may exist in their yard.
During this time often a friendship blossoms in spite of the business at hand and we embark on a creative endeavor that pleases the eye and soul. I embarked on one of these adventures with a man named Jim Lawrence last year. Jim came down at first just wanting to jazz up the front yard a little bit and bring together a few elements that just did not seem to be complimenting each other real well.
I drew him and his wife Judy a preliminary design and they pondered it a few days. We then took a tour of the nursery and looked at all the plants that were in the design. Most of the selections got the ok nod but a few did not and needed to be changed. During this time Jim and Judy researched the plants thouroughly on the internet to find out as much as they could. Eventually after a few changes we had a collaborative design that Jim, Judy and I had all come up with that we felt was going to pull all the existing pieces together, in particular two serviceberry trees.
It was kind of funny how we pulled this off. We used two Japanese White Pine to offset the serviceberry twins. To the unindoctrinated even numbers are generally a no no in design. This was a first for me as a designer. I had used some even numbers before but I would always add three of something to make a total of five or seven. We actually did end up offsetting the four center pieces with various things, but it was a group of four that was the epicenter of the design.
After we did the front yard we moved to the back yard and started tweeking back there. Jim and Judy were not new to gardening. They had planted various trees in the yard, had a veggie garden, and had a holding area where they were storing/growing various perennials that they had acquired over the years. The center piece of this area was a Fireglow Japanese Maple that their son and John, their grandson, had given Jim for Father’s day the year before.
Over the summer Jim and I would go back and look at this area and check out some other stuff and just speculate on the weather and its effects on various plants. Jim always offered me a beverage while I was there. Judy and him were drinking ice mocha which was actually pretty refreshing during some of the hottest days last summer. I appreciated the hospitality. Fall came and the color came with it. There were some gorgeous Green Mountain Sugar Maple that Jim and Matt had planted in their yards, they are actually neighbors as well as family members. We hung out and just admired these trees a couple different times.
Jim and I watched the one predominate Green Mountain Sugar Maple change colors as the sun went down one night with my son Georg. The tree changed colors for an hour or so as I photographed it 200 times literally. Most people would think I was nuts. Jim understood what I was after, he was a kindred soul.
I had recently started growing this tree out of curiosity. I always thought Fall Fiesta was the best Sugar Maple for Fall color. I am always interested in trying new things. I wanted to see what this baby was going to do. It did not disappoint! Eventually the sun went down and Georg and I bid our farewells to Jim. It had been a good night.
Jim and Judy have a large stand of Blue Spruce that they share with their neighbor. These are some gorgeous Blue Spruce. One of the last moves Jim and I made last season was planting some Limelight Hydrangea staggering these massive fat Blue Spruce. I told Jim they would just bloom their heads off and really rock his world out there. Jim was game.
I am not sure how to say this. I have never memorialized anyone except my father in my blog. I lost my friend Jim today and it really hurts. He was a special man who loved plants before he met me. However, we went on a little journey together last year and created something unique with his wife Judy. I was really looking forward to seeing Jim this Spring and continue where we left off. I think he was looking forward to picking up where we left off too.
I will miss him dearly. Nothing compared to his own family of course, but I will miss him. He was a classy guy, and a great man. He called it how he saw it and was always very articulate and polite about it. I was hoping some of that would rub off on me if I spent more time with him.
God bless the Lawrence family, thanks for everything Jim.