Ever notice the collection of colorful flowers and leafy plants near the entrance of White Oak Library?
The lillies, vincas and hostas didn't sprout naturally from the ground. They're the handiwork of Rebecca Rizvi, a White Oak resident who began planting and tending the garden more than five years ago.
"My daughter and I, she was homeschooling for a year, and we didn't have any ground to plow because we lived in an apartment," Rizvi explained.
The pair asked Jan Baird-Adams, the library's manager, if they could take the plot of dirt in front of the building and plant flowers.
"I just thought it would be something fun we could do together, for the community and for ourselves," she said.
Rizvi wasn't a gardening expert. In fact, having grown up in urban areas in New Jersey and having lived in the D.C. area as an adult, she'd never had a garden.
"I don't know anything about gardening at all!" Rizvi said with a laugh. Yet she's maintained the flowers for years, using her own money to pick out pretty plants and figuring out what works by trial and error.
"I’m learning from what works and what doesn’t work," she said. "I’m happy that some of the work of previous years is showing up again."
These days, Rizvi visits the garden for about an hour every couple of weeks. Her work is mainly picking holly leaves and random trash from the land, although she does plan to experiment with a few annual plants, probably marigolds, or more vincas and hostas.
"It gives me some joy," Rizvi said of the garden.
Library patrons are also grateful for her work, she said.
"People are so appreciative, too," she said. "People coming in and out of the library will say 'Oh, is that your garden? That’s so nice of you, thank you!'
"That’s pretty gratifying," Rizvi said.