When I purchased the house and garden of Elizabeth Lawrence on
February 11, 1986, I did not have the slightest inkling of what lay ahead
for me. I knew of Elizabeth Lawrence, of course, but the garden had
been neglected for two years by another owner, and on that cold and
dismal winter day it was covered with invasive vines and weeds. Re-
cently, there had been a record freeze of minus five degrees. Scores of
plants had succumbed to the frost and now littered the garden. I had
been told that very few of her treasures remained, and it certainly
seemed unlikely that many could have survived.
However, having an intractable passion for gardening, and inspired
by the appearance of the golden flowers of the Adonis amurensis shim-
mering in the shadow of the pines at the back of the garden, I set about
the daunting task of gardening in this ‘‘new’’ garden. Soon many other
horticultural surprises struggled out from underneath the thick mat of
ivy and periwinkle. Winter aconite and snowdrops smiled at me along
with Elizabeth Lawrence’s beloved Algerian iris, Crocus tomasinianus,
and da√odils. As the work of pruning and the removal of vines and
weeds progressed, even more treasures appeared. Among these was a
gorgeous violet-blue Japanese iris, Iris ensata, that bloomed with Miss
Lawrence’s many yellow daylilies. It is a wonder that this moisture-
loving iris continues to flourish in this dry garden.
Visitors from both near and far also began to appear, and I soon
realized that my garden was not to be just for my pleasure. This respon-
sibility began to weigh heavily. However, loving gardening as I do, I
have not let this responsibility diminish the joy I feel when in the garden.
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