Victoria's Victorious Victory Garden - Handmade Collage

Czechslovakia was no place for cultivating hope in the early 1960s. In that colorless time, a girl named Victoria—an extravegant old-world name—synonymous with British opulence and exploitation—found a way of summoning riots of color into peoples' daily lives. She had no political agenda other than a strong dislike for the root vegetables that she and her classmates had been forced to plant in victory gardens throughout the city.

Victoria's father knew a man with the government who from time to time had to travel to Amsterdam on state business. For reasons unknown to Victoria or her father the man returned from Amsterdam with several packets of contraband flower seeds and unmarked bulap sacks containing bulbs. Whether motivated by kindess or guilt, he passed along the entire cache to Victoria's father who in turn gave it to his rutabega-planting-fatigued daughter. She turned over the packet in her hands. The image of multi-colored roses reproduced on the front of the packet struck her as if something out of a dream.

Early spring when the ground was still cold Victoria began planting bulbs in the corner of gardens throughout the city. Over the next weeks as the weather warmed, Victoria tossed seeds into the dirt as she went about planting beets with her peers. She watered and waited. Of all the possible days that the first tulips could appear, it turned out to be May 1, May Day. An air of excitement passed through the city. No one spoke of the flowers but citizens took to visiting the victory gardens in droves. Though the authorities never caught onto their presence, citizens celebrated these small acts of horticultural subversion and forever after felt a quiet sense of triumph over their oppressors.