Submission to 2020 Chaumont-sur-Loire International Garden Festival, with Samantha Gebb and Alex Broad
We were totally unprepared. She took us all by surprise. We were relaxing at home when she suddenly arrived.

We hadn’t invited her. She didn’t even knock on the door. She simply emerged from the ground, flooded our house with earth, ripped apart our floor boards, and wrapped her fingers around every object we owned. We hoped it was temporary, but soon realized it was permanent. Our Mother-in-law was here to stay.

The relationship was challenging at first. But slowly some form of harmony evolved. Her vines enveloped our walls, her dark grasses carpeted our living room, and her aromatic herbs painted our kitchen blue. We watched happily as she set off fireworks of red and white flowers in our bedroom. She even added her own colors to all our precious personal objects - our books, our bottles, our computers. We learned to communicate with her; the floor, chairs, shelves, even the ceiling became places where had long conversations with her.

She decided to live in the center of the house. If you want, you can enter quietly. As you dwell amidst the ferns and tropical plants, you might feel her breathing. From this verdant room, you can catch glimpses of the rest of the house moving around you.

Mothers-in-law can be difficult. Ours has a hell of a temper. She’s terribly misbehaved, inviting her friends over and making so much noise. But we’re fine with that, because she reminds us that the greatest wealth of all is the joy of sharing, of being with each other despite our differences. We thought she was an unwelcome guest. Now, we’re no longer so sure who’s the guest. Welcome home, Mother-in-law.