When I was three, we moved to a French Norman-style brick house with leaded glass windows situated on a level bit of land halfway up a hill. The house was surrounded by mature trees and long-abandoned gardens. My mother, though pregnant with my brother, took it upon herself to bring back the formal perennial beds and rock gardens as best she could. She weeded out low rock retaining walls revealing Hens and Chicks, Candytuft, and Creeping Phlox.
My father cut out unwanted saplings under tall trees giving breathing room to Grape Hyacinth, Bleeding Heart, Bloodroot, and Andromeda. Snowdrops and Crocus flourished. Dogwoods flowered white and pink. Tulip bulbs were planted. Thick gnarled vines of Wisteria wove up decorative wrought iron supports and dangled pendant racemes of fragrant purple flowers. Ancient looming Rhododendron, a backdrop to the formal garden, offered bouquets of crimson and fuchsia blossoms. A narrow pathway between the behemoths led through dark overhanging branches to a secret room where we would whisper to a stone cherub standing silent against the wall of green.