I’m not really a collector. I don’t have a box full of inaugural TY Beanie Babies, a set of books with stamps from every era in American history, racks of tiny silver spoons, or a refrigerator covered with magnets from every state in the U.S. But, what I do love to collect are plants from the yards of my friends and loved ones. Throughout my yard I have created beds that are filled with plants given to me over the years by people I hold dear. And I can, with very few exceptions, recount who gave each one to me. There are tiger lilies and bleeding hearts in the shade that came from my mother-in-law. The sedum outside my kitchen window, that feeds the house finches & blooms lavender in the autumn, has been divided several times — it also came from her. But, not only did they come from her, they came from the house that we knew and loved so well, and has since been sold and passed on to another family to love. Some history there. The ferns and sweet william, the hosta and absolutely glorious pink lily of the valley came from Aunt Beth. The memories of being at her house (with the most beautiful back yard I’ve ever been in) have come along with these plants that bloom each spring. The rhubarb plants that overtook the children’s garden and needed to be moved to the side yard were a gift from our current neighbors. The stella d’oro daylilies came from my neighbor, Asha. She gave me some dozen of these beautiful plants several years ago when she tired of the dead heading and upkeep. Where as they used to live around her patio, they now line the bed in which our tomatoes grow. Shortly after my mother passed away some years ago, my friend Heather wrote me a check, telling me that I was to buy some flowers for my yard in memory of my mother. I did just that: notably, the Halfway To Arkansas Blue. It reminds me of my mother’s huge affection for the south and her travels there. That plant has grown and been divided, and has been passed on to grow in the yards of some of my friends. Of course, there are many starters that I’ve purchased. Heirloom violets and delphiniums, shasta daisies and lupines, wild geranium and phlox, forget me nots and salvia…I love them all and look forward to being able to share them with friends in the years to come. But, I cherish the history that comes with the living, thriving gifts given to me by loved ones. Plants that came from people they loved. Plants and flowers that bloomed in yards of houses where memories were made and lives were lived. Plants that grew and flourished under the care of my loved ones. And because of that care and sweet generosity, they now provide the animals I love with food and protection. They beautify my yard and will be part my story, my family’s story. And, my yard, my days, and my seasons are lovelier for it.