by Patrice Johnson
“Take care of all your memories. For you cannot relive them.”
This songwriter’s words were manifest May 9 to the patter of rain in a Gregory greenhouse. For years, Mackenzie Williams and her grandmother, Judy Williams, had attended one of Tulip Tree Gardens’ annual container classes. Now, Mackenzie was about to graduate Stockbridge Community Schools and head off to begin undergraduate work at Madonna College in Livonia.
“Kids grow up and situations change,” Judy Williams said, her voice steady, “not likely ‘Kenzie and I will ever have the chance to do this again.”
At her side, Mackenzie Williams stood planting a pot with apricot and yellow, double-bloom begonias, a Mother’s Day gift for her mom. The slender teen athlete lowered her gaze and appeared to concentrate on making room for a purple and yellow viola. Tradition held that each of her and her grandmother’s flower baskets must house at least one of these delicate-looking, but remarkably hearty, little inhabitants.
“I’ll miss this,” Mackenzie said, barely above a whisper.
As a rite of spring, co-owner sisters Laura Morehouse and Rachel Camp were conducting the first of two container classes. Attendees registered with Stockbridge Community Education for $5.00, and while in class, selected an array of plants and materials, priced according to the size of their hanging baskets or planters. (The second and final container class of 2018 will be held this Wednesday, May 16 at 6:30 p.m.)
During the hands-on session, attendees created their own floral masterpieces, all while learning to apply basic principles of design. Instructor Morehouse’s passion for all things horticultural bubbled to the surface as she explained concepts of color, texture, shape, size and care.
“This Victoria Salvia will grow tall, so let’s place it here in the center,” she said, jabbing a hole with her right hand in the vermiculite-rich soil. “Now, do you want these two planters to mirror each other or be identical?”
As the class drew to a close and participants took a moment to admire each others’ creations, Morehouse counseled those with hanging baskets. “These should be watered daily, and you might want to start adding fertilizer after about three weeks.”
A natural teacher, Morehouse explained that the N-P-K ratings on a fertilizer bag stood for the percentages of ingredients. The first number represented nitrogen, she said, the second phosphorous, and the third potassium or potash. “You want 30 in the middle to stimulate more blooms,” she emphasized.
Nearby, a young mother with her toddler hitched on her hip was browsing a display of hanging Tulip Tree baskets. The youngster leaned over, intent on wrapping his fingers around a spray of unsuspecting petunias.
From toddler to teen, from mother to grandmother, memories were sending out shoots and anchoring their roots.
William Shakespeare may have best described what was transpiring when, four centuries ago, he wrote, “Tis in my memory lock’d, and you yourself shall keep the key of it.”