Lately I’ve been thinking more about gardening, how much work I’ve put into the gardens at home, and what it will cost me emotionally to leave it. At the Little Cunning Plan house, we have extensive gardens on our 3/4 acre property. It wasn’t always that way. When we moved in, our yard, like our house, had experienced many, many years of complete neglect. English ivy ran rampant, climbing up the big fir trees, strangling the understory. All kinds of berries with thorns wandered hither and yon, covering all the sunny areas with their weedy presence. There were no garden beds, there was no hard scape, there really wasn’t even any grass. Just rock under a thin layer of soil, and a lot of moss. The only good garden plants on the property were a very old yellow tree peony, and some very old rhododendrons. These became the backbones of the garden in several places.
Some people would have run screaming from this, or hired a team of designers. I saw it as a blank slate and went to work creating spaces for plants. This is one of the problems, karmic in nature I suppose, that have haunted me throughout my life. I see everything as a possibility, not really noticing how much work it’s going to be to accomplish that vision. Possibilities are great, but I am determined to NOT do this when we buy a boat. Sure.
Over the last 12 years I’ve built cement walls, a pond, made fake boulders, and created cement leaves out of castings made from garden plants. We’ve put in a greenhouse, made paths, thinned growth, and spend probably thousands of dollars on plants. I don’t even want to think about that part. I’ve developed skills that I can use over and over. I’ve also learned about the futility of believing a garden is ever ‘finished’, or that plants are going to last. The ephemeral nature of the garden can be frustrating, especially when critters are at fault for the disappearance of hundreds of special plants over the years. But in the end, it’s no use fighting moles and voles, because they were there before I was, and because when one plant leaves, it makes room for others. I’ve learned to protect the ones that really matter, and leave the others to fend for themselves. A costly lesson, to be sure.
Now I’m at the point where I sit back and watch the garden grow much more than I actively work the soil. I’m more likely to spend the day on the boat than spend the day in the garden. But I still love seeing what is in bloom, tending tiny plants, and helping large plants stand up straight. I have to keep myself from ordering seeds, remembering the boxes of seeds I have, neatly sorted, in the greenhouse. I still love the garden, and it comforts me to know that whenever the boating days are over, I can do it all again. Maybe more slowly and deliberately next time.
So this page is a tribute to my garden, and the voles who make my life a living hell. They were here before me, and they’ll be here long after I’m gone. Long live the garden!
To see more photos of the garden, taken over the years, go to this link: https://picasaweb.google.com/115882375609697890521/GardenPhotos