It was May of 2003. I was headed along my usual path to my son’s preschool on Lawyers Road when my eye caught a glimpse of a field of flowers hidden from the road.
A field of flowers, I thought to myself, an unusual site to see in Fairfax, where land is so precious and most house gardens consist of small, charming beds, fashionably planted to add pep to our otherwise staged, suburban homes.
I did a U-turn and parked the car to see if my eyes had played a trick. Out of the car, my son and I found ourselves walking into an Impressionist painting. Rows upon rows of flowing flowers, irises, peonies and poppies filled our vision. I didn’t want to trespass, but, at the same time, it was such a beautiful picture that I could not leave.
It had been a rainy evening the night before, and my son was dressed for the day with his Paddington Bear-style little yellow raincoat. He began to run through the rainbow filled rows, thrilled at the idea of a maze-like challenge.
There was a faint, green home in the background, followed by a shed and gardening tools. As I walked closer to the home, I noticed an older woman with gardening gloves and heavy boots. She smiled and walked towards me, and I recall apologizing for our early morning presence. She said that we were more than welcome, for the garden, although not yet open for the day, was a place where people came to paint, purchase bulbs and merely enjoy.
She herself was a volunteer, she explained, and the woman who owned the land was named Margaret. She then saw my son and asked if she could take him around to show him some special bulbs. A few minutes later, they returned and my son was holding a bouquet of long-stemmed irises. These were called Batman bulbs, she claimed with a wink, and my son, who was leaving the world of Bob the Builder and entering the superhero phase, had the biggest superhero grin on his face when he handed me his prize.
After initially discovering the hidden treasure on Lawyers Road, I found myself revisiting Margaret’s Garden every year, my mid-spring tradition, after most of the early bulbs had faded and the daffodils in my own garden had wilted away.
I looked forward to seeing Margaret’s Garden flourish with her later blooming bulbs that smiled, waking the art spirit in Herndon. Alas, my children have graduated from preschool and it has been 11 springs that I have taken my four children to visit the garden. So, this past spring, when I drove down Lawyers Road to peek in on the peonies, the poppies and irises, my eyes were saddened by the sore sight. There were overgrown weeds and a few lonely bulbs. And the little green house humbly stood alone, longing for the ladies with the big broad hats and easels, who had in the past, planted themselves among the colorful company of flowers in a once vibrant field.
Margaret’s Garden is no longer, for Margaret has since passed. However, her gardening spirit lives on at ArtSpace, a quaint gallery tucked in the heart of Herndon.
Saturday night, I was fortunate to attend a reception featuring more than a dozen artists who had spent time in Margaret’s Garden. Their collected imagery conveyed floral interpretations in a variety of formats including: watercolor, oil, pastels and photography.
Many of the artists had a written memory or two pinned on the wall beside their piece, and Margaret’s Garden was commonly mentioned in comparison to Monet’s, Giverny. Thank you to all of the local artists of ArtSpace who allowed us to enter a virtual garden, recreating the magnificent memories of Margaret’s Garden.
A Tribute to Margaret’s Garden is on exhibit at ArtSpace in Herndon from July 10-August 12, 2012.