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.