The first book I bought with my own money was about organic gardening. I was eight years old. I grew watermelons and zinnias in the backyard and was mesmerized by my mother’s beautiful roses and peonies. My happiest days were spent on my grandparents' farm in Perry, Oklahoma, so I suppose my current occupation is not a surprise to those who have known me the longest.
I’ve grown something everywhere I’ve ever lived. When I was a struggling young actress living in Brooklyn, I grew coreopsis in window boxes. When my husband (also an actor) and I moved into Manhattan, we moved into a dark little building between two taller ones. One window looked out into a bleak, narrow concrete corridor between two buildings and the other looked out onto trash-ridden railway right of way. So I bought a grow lamp and raised cactuses.
Because no commercially-grown flower could compare to those my mother and grandmothers grew, I spent many years not purchasing or sending flowers for any reason. When I got married, I created all the arrangements out of dried material (it was the 90's after all!). When my mother-in-law –- who also adored flowers —passed away from breast cancer, one huge, free-flowing spray of dark blue larkspur tore at my heart during her memorial service. I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. It was different from all the others, just as Mary Ready had been. The year my husband and I were married, my mother had a wild stand of the same color larkspur in her yard. It provided the only fresh flowers at our wedding on my grandparents’ farm.
That’s when I realized the true resonance and beauty that flowers bring into our lives. There is something about the bittersweet impermanence of their existence that draws us to them. And now my garden is filled with the flowers my mother and grandmothers grew, as well as flowers from the gardens of other women who are important in my life.