The Garden

English: Rhododendron in The Roughs These purp...
Image via Wikipedia

In my old life I had a garden.

When we first moved into our home, the 1 acre yard was a motley medley of scraggly grass and tenacious weeds; too wet to mow and too shady for grass to thrive.  It was a blank canvas.  Slowly, I began to paint, using the medium of small starter plants, tree seedlings obtained from the forestry department, and cuttings and divisions nurtured from friends and neighbors.

I had a vision of a magical woodland retreat, filled with the soft haze of ferns and the subtle flowers of the understory.  For years, this image existed only in my head, the reality of small, young plants planted in a vast, weed-strewn yard looked nothing like a garden.  I spent hours on the weekends and after work attacking weeds and planting replacements.  On days when the weather was prohibitive, I would research plants and growing conditions.  I made annual treks to a budget nursery in a nearby town, filling my car to the bursting points with dreams held in the bright green folds of new growth.

But slowly, it emerged.  I watched 2 foot bald cypress saplings grow to 30 foot trees.  Ferns and hostas spread their roots far and wide under the protective shade of the understory.  Hydrangea proudly held their blooms high, as though no longer ashamed of their companions.  Colors would come and go throughout the weeks: daylilies, Lenten rose, iris, geraniums, azaleas.  Their spectacular shows provided endless variety and interest.

From February through November, I would begin most every day with a walk along the stone path, through the pergolas, and over the boardwalk.  Examining the new growth,watching the wildlife, reveling in the beauty of the plants.  On the weekends, I would bring my papers to grade out to one of the hammocks to enjoy the breezes through the leaves and the interplay of light and shadow.

In my old life I had a garden.

It was painful to walk away from my plants, nurtured for so many years.  I found myself staring at plants around town wistfully, thinking of their counterparts in my yard.  As with much of my transition, it was painful, but also freeing.  I no longer had to worry about the assaults of deer, the dangers of a last freeze, or the effects of a flood.  My weekends were not filled with weeding.  My hands no longer frozen from the cold February soil.

But still, I mourned my plants.  I purchased a pass to the botanical gardens and promised myself a monthly visit.  Now, I walk their perfectly manicured paths and appreciate the beauty created by teams of professionals.  The gardens are stunning, but it’s not the same as one created by my own labor.  My own dreams.

In my old life I had a garden.

The last few years, my nurturing energies have been turned inwards, helping myself to grow and thrive.  I have tried to eliminate the weeds, start new plantings, and encourage growth.  I have become my own garden.

And, now, with home ownership again on the horizon, I look forward to creating a new garden, filled with both familiar and untried plants. A testament to the persistence of life and the beauty of growth.

American Eastern Redbud Tree (Cercis canadensis)
Image via Wikipedia
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9 thoughts on “The Garden

  1. In my old life I had a wonderful yard, 7 flower beds and a garden that was 20 years worth of my work. I gave it all up for a man who betrayed me. I now live in a two bedroom apartment with 2 kids. I understand the longing as you pass by the flowers in the nurseries. I miss my garden so much.

  2. I’ve never had a garden but am dreaming of one- just purchased two colorful bougainvillea bushes and am gonna start there 😉

  3. I also had to leave my garden behind. It is something that still upsets me in the spring and summer when I think about my rose bushes that I planted and nursed. My ex got to keep that house and now has the other woman there with him. They get to enjoy the fruits of my labor. I pray that one day I’ll have a garden again

    1. Isn’t it wild how attached we can become to those plants? I find myself mentally touring the garden and estimating how much each plant has grown (assuming the new owners didn’t tear it all down!). I hope that years from now, we are both posting pictures of our lovely new gardens:)

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