I raked last years leaves from the flowerbed. Underneath them flowers were already beginning to grow. I was looking forward to working outside in the gardens since I heard it was going to be warm this weekend.
I thought of the gardens when we first moved to the house about five years ago.
They were fewer and the only flowers surviving were the hardy peonies and purple Iris. I’ve lived in lots of old houses whose gardens have been neglected for one reason or another, almost all of them had at least a few purple Iris still surviving.
I heard that Florence, who lived in our house for the 80 years before we bought it, once had lots of gardens. By the time she died at 104 years old, the maintenance around the house had been made as simple as possible. Mostly just a lawn to mow.
I thought of my friend, the poet, Mary Kellogg and how she used to show me and Jon around her gardens when we visited. As she got older, her daughters helped her take care of them. Then Mary broke her hip and never got to go back home. Now she’s living in an adult residence and I wonder about her gardens.
Someone else will either appreciate and tend them, the dominant flowers will take over, or maybe they’ll just be simplified into a lawn.
It made me wonder what might happen to my own gardens.
Would I be like Florence, living in this house till I died. Winnowing my gardens down to a few manageable Iris and Peony.
I don’t have anyone to help me care for my gardens like Mary did. So I hope I will I leave the house and the gardens, in good condition, when I begin to see I can no longer care for them myself.
That’s what I feel now, but maybe if I live that long, I won’t want to leave my home. Maybe I’ll choose to have it fall down around me rather than give it up.
If I did, I wonder which flowers would take over.
The yellow primrose is a good bet and the daylilies. Bergamot spreads like crazy, but I don’t know if it will last over the years. The hibiscus can’t survive the winter if it isn’t mulched. Eventually all the trees we planted will make so much shade, maybe only the hostas and a few straggling day lilies will survive.
Although, I can’t help but believe Florence’s peonies and purple Iris’ will be here no matter what happens.
I’ve lived in many old houses and revived many old gardens. Each time I’ve moved I’ve taken some plants or seeds from the previous house with me. I’m not one to try to have complete control over my gardens. Like most things in my life, I like them to be a bit wild.
Whether I live in this house for the rest of my life, or someday move, at some point I’ll once again have to leave my gardens behind.
I do like the idea of my gardens being able to go completely wild. Allowing them to sort it all out. It may not be the kindest or most beautiful way to leave a garden, but there’s something freeing in the idea that I like.
8 thoughts on “Thinking Of My Gardens”
Interesting thoughts, Maria. I am nearly 68, so starting to think of the “what will happen when” things. Our hope is to stay in this house forever (till we die, that is). Since I have gradually increased my garden areas each year, and want to keep doing that, I wonder how well I can manage, as I definitely can’t do all the physical parts of it anymore, though I do a lot of it. Today I went down to see my niece, 45 minutes away, in their first new home (they got married in March) and took her some of my bee balm and violets and daisies and a couple of bachelor buttons. We were worried that her yard would be too shady, and I don’t know much about shade gardening, but I think it’s going to be OK. I was able to show her and her new husband how to plant the flowers (he’s a farmer but not used to planting flowers–much smaller scale than his usual work), and I brought along a couple of planters with pansies in them, so they have a nice start and the front steps looking good. I noticed that she has some lilies which are showing and tulips, I think, as well as daffodils. No flowers as yet, it is just starting to warm up and feel a little more like spring, here in the Midwest, but they’ll be blooming one of these days. A nice surprise waiting to happen. It’s fun for me to be able to help her start a new garden, even as I start to consider how long I can keep my own up. And just before I left home, I looked out just in time to see the new little pots of lantana I’d bought attract the first butterfly I’ve seen this season. That surely lifted my spirits. I do love flowers and the bees and butterflies they attract. Enjoy your garden. Happy Spring! Melissa
It feels like a continuation of your own garden bridging your niece and her husband some of your flowers. That’s a beautiful way of keeping your garden going too. Thanks for your story Melissa I enjoyed reading it.
I am (supposedly) a Master Gardener, but my motto is “the garden knows best”. That which survives and thrives is meant to be here. That which doesn’t, isn’t. There are plants that just can’t make it in this climate and alkaline soil (even the water is alkaline) and I think it’s plant cruelty to try to force them. (Looking at you, gardenias and Japanese maples). My now deceased parents moved here from southern Florida where you could plant your poinsettias outside after Christmas and they’d grow into trees with no care at all. Not so much out here. So I’ve come to love the native plants and the volunteers that pop up wherever they choose, and I trust that they will survive me. Who also popped up where I chose, and set down my roots.
I love to hear that from a Master Gardner Jill. Last year I got a bunch or perennials from a church plant sale. All native to the area that easily thrive and were dug up from the gardens from people in our town.
Those are the very best plants to get. The Big Box Stores have their plant selection prescribed by HQ and many times without regard to locality. But local churches, gardening clubs and farmers markets are a great way to go, and a lot of fun.
I can’t wait to go back to the church sale again this year Jill. And our theater has the same kind of sale too. I usually donate some of my plants and buy a bunch more.
That last garden left is you Maria. It lives just as you dream to !
Beautiful Cindy, thank you.