Saturday, April 22, 2017

A New Adventure

A gardener doesn’t sell their house. They sell their garden and the house happens to go along with it in the deal.
So now the time has come when we decide it’s time to find a new place to live.

It’s hard work moving a garden. Not only physically but it’s an emotional workout as well.

I have been creating this garden for 31 years. Sipping a  cup of oolong as I write this post, I look out to the garden while the bouts of spring rain and bursts of sun jockey for dominance. My beloved space of peace. A safe place where tears have been spilled, laughter has erupted and love has been shared. An oasis. A piece of my heart. A portion of my soul.

 My garden contains treasures from the gardens of loved ones long since passed and from old and new friends, all happily mingling with my own finds. They must go with me, these plants and the memories they release. True, we hold our memories in our hearts and they go with us where ever we go, but as long as I can work the soil I want my garden to be a visible reflection of the mosaic that embodies my life, even if it’s only evident to me.

On the one hand, I want to take it all with me yet on the other hand its healthy to be open to new opportunities, a new future both in a new garden space and in finding plants that I haven’t been surrounded by for decades already. So naturally I am compelled to make a list of my favorite, hard-if-not-impossible-to find-ever-again perennials. Those that simply must come along, never mind that I haven’t even found a new garden space or house yet. I don’t know what light and wind exposures or boundary situations that I will be dealing with yet. I don’t know anything yet. But what I do know is that in some capacity, it must become my new garden.

I have rarities like Geranium ‘Lily Lovell’ that I found on an excursion long ago and have never seen for sale since, two varieties of Hypatica and a finally-I-got-a-bloom-after-10-years (darn slugs) Calanthe tricarinata (Japanese hardy orchid).

Also, I have a few old cultivars. Like Cimicifuga simplex ‘Brunette’ (aka Actaea simplex, Bugbane, Snakeroot, Cohosh) who is harder to find now than ‘Black Beauty’. ‘Black Beauty’ was introduced after ‘Brunette’ but I happen to like the purply-chocolaty-to-copper variations in the ‘black’ leaves of ‘Brunette’ better. ‘Black Beauty’ has less variations to my eye.

And a particular Loosestrife that is NOT a garden thug.  Lysimachia ephemerum provides much sought after strong yet graceful, swaying-in-the-breeze height to the garden. I haven’t seen it for sale in many years but I think it’s a far superior option than its cousin Lysimachia clethroidesis better known as Gooseneck Loosestrife who is still sold in nurseries and is a bully, running rampant over anything that stands in its way. I steer clear of that one. Sadly, as is often is the case, some cultivars simply disappear. Growers stop propagating them in favor of newer varieties. 

And Echinacea ‘pallida’ who’s pouty petals are long, languid and so much more beguiling than her stouter brother ‘purpurea’. Yes, she is very fussy and demanding, but I love her far more. In our new location I will be experimenting with giving her a little more protection in the heat of the day. Either more moisture or dappled sun or more compost. Like I said, she's fussy. 

And Eupatorium rugosum ‘Chocolate’, and some Gladiolus ‘Boone’ bulbs reportedly dating back to the 1920’s, and Mullen chaixii ‘Album’ who came from my mother’s garden, and, and, and the list goes on. And don’t even get me started on all the ferns I must keep. That will have to be another post all together.

This garden is like a friend that I’ve seemingly had forever. We’ve grown up together yet, today this is not the same garden I planted all those yesterdays ago. Nor am I the same person that I was 31 years ago.

Of trees; over time I planted 10, yet after having flourished for several years 2 of them turned away and died fast, unexplainable deaths. Maybe I was hasty in my planting of them and didn’t get them to just the right planting depth, or didn’t nurture them enough in their first year. And two others, long time stalwarts whom I didn’t plant but had welcomed me to this patch of earth died too, no less dreadful to me but most likely their natural allotted time had simply ceased.

Of perennials; some have taken hold and happily spread while others have disappeared after growing weaker and weaker. Perhaps I didn’t put them in the right place or perhaps they just rebelled. Death in the garden is not always the gardener’s culpability. No matter how we strive, we simply won’t thrive if we are in the wrong place…or on the wrong path. In this 31 years we’ve both fought and struggled and failed only to get up again and again until in the end we’ve both grown stronger, my garden and me.

Of bulbs; Tulips are not generally garden devotees. They give up and eventually go away, only strong in their early years. I planted 100 Tulipa ‘Gavota’ more than 15 years ago, of which only 1 remains today. The force of their presence in that number was incredibly beautiful really. A lovely combination of burgundy red edged in creamy butter yellow. I didn’t spend a lot on them knowing they would not be longsuffering.
I have however, spent a small fortune on daffodil bulbs. Perhaps I should be more specific, some rare and some heirloom daffodil bulbs. I have purchased some amazing species… the Pheasant’s Eyes, the fluffy doubles, some species with short trumpets, ‘Sinopel’ has green trumpets, some species that have graceful swept back reflex petals permitting the trumpet to be the star of the show. ‘Earlicheer’ and ‘Thalia’ were delightful for the longest time (thank you for your fragrance), and I believe it was ‘Rip Van Winkle’ who was already in residence when I bought this garden but years later he wearied of blooming so I dutifully divided him… well, over the following 2 years he mocked my efforts by sneaking into oblivion never to return. Narcissus are reputed to be strong, ever-returning and expected to deliver a return on your investment by rewarding you with ever increasing clumps…so much so that when they are overcrowded, their blooming decreases and their legion must be divided and replanted so as to make more room to breathe and thus bloom on again, year after year. Well, that’s what they say, anyway. Yet not for me in my garden. Each and every one of those pricey defectors eventually turned on me and tiptoed away year after year until not a one remains today. COWARDS!

What I do have today, growing into a huge and happy mass is I-have-no-idea-who-you-are variety of daffodil. By happenstance, one day I found a few of these mystery bulbs on the walkway of a commercial establishment, tossed aside carelessly by a paid professional dunderhead gardener (I write the term loosely as no respectable gardener would do such an absurdity). I recognized these bulbs would be of the daffodil family so as I walked by I picked them up, tucking them into my pocket as I continued on my way. I remembered them days later, planted them and the sweethearts thank me more and more every spring as their tribe grows. Proof that a great garden need not require a princely income. Oh yes, you can be sure a few of them are coming along with me.

While I look forward with happy expectation of the new garden to come, I do with some sadness think of the one I will leave behind.

On the brighter side, who knows…maybe in my new garden I will create a secreted space within the whole… 
one of secluded tranquility where tea can be taken. 
A secret tea garden.

In Bloom in My Garden Today: Anemone nemerosa ‘robinsoniana’, Bergenia ‘winter glow’, Brunnera macrophylla, Clematis alpina ‘frankie’, Daffodils, Erythronium revolutum (fawn lily, trout lily, dogtooth violet), Heath (Erica carnea ‘springwood white’), Hellebore, Hyacinths, Mahonia repens, Muscari, Pachysandra terminalis, Primrose (double English), Rhododendron, Skimmia, Tulipa ‘Gavota’, Viola.

Authors photos

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