Prompted by a sign I’ve dragged around with me and which now sits askew, dusty, and seemingly out-of-place by our front porch, Wyatt asked “What garden?” I had a garden once upon a time; designed by me, built with the help of my good friend Brad, and nurtured by the dreams of seeing my children grow, get married, and bring me grandchildren. Sometimes seeds bloom and fade. Then we discover the garden we need.
Set on a rolling lot with excellent sun exposure, mature trees, and volcanic earth, my garden was destined to grow successfully! It began quietly in the front yard digging with Karen in the rain. She was 15 months old and a gardener at heart from the start! We removed shrubs struggling to survive without adequate space or light. Next soil was mounded and rocks were placed to create a life size fairy garden.
The pond by the deck happened by accident. Fritz was lost to seizures. I could not fathom placing my much loved feline anywhere but under the lilac tree he loved so much. So the addition of a pond surrounded by a frenzy of daylilies hosted his resting spot. I relished the sound of water so much that we added a rolling waterfall and multiple ponds at the back of the yard. Taylor helped me choose goldfish and then find the perfect fountainhead. The spitting frog had to have just enough action to keep mosquitoes at bay but be gentle enough for small birds to bathe.
Rachel loved to recline in the yard or around the pool surrounded by friends and acquaintances. She found joy in selecting some of the many statues for the garden. They follow me still. Rachel is not a gardener of the land but her heart enjoys the architecture, the flowers and the wildlife like Rocky the racoon; a year round resident of our sanctuary.
Despite the love and time devoted to building a place for my family it was not to remain. As it is for so many of us… life presents transitions. Transitions moving us literally, emotionally, figuratively.
I have a different garden now. It is small, dusty and slightly askew… reminiscent of our welcoming marker. The joy and overwhelming love in my humble little plot is so much more than I ever expected to sow. The butterflies alight on milkweed, bees dance about the sweet peas, and there is the beauty of green all about! I must admit that the mottled jade hues are achieved with the arrival of tenacious seeds blown in by the wind. However they arrive, the resulting ground cover is admired for its strength and relentless nature to survive. So we indulge their will. Planters are overflowing with the common petunia, beautiful in their wildness and filling our days with their sweet scents. Accompanying the riotous pink and white posies are pinwheels emblazoned with red maple leaves reminding us of our childhood and that our children are close to heart.
Alongside the house sits a cedar chest. It once kept dress-up dreams for my tots. Masks, hats, magnificent dresses, and sparkling shoes were held there for those magical and fantastical days when tales came to life. Today it holds soccer balls, volleyballs, diggers, dinosaurs, and a spiderman mask. The rain falls upon the planks and the spiders find homes within the trunk. This vessel is another item I have managed to drag about as we moved through life’s metamorphosis. A symbol of dreams and fantasies come true in our dishevelled backyard.
My good friend Bonnie gave me design advice many years ago: group items in 3’s, it’s more visually appealing! I have kept that in mind and I sometimes follow her counsel. It appears, as I scan the yard, that I’ve taken the advice more often than I thought! Three Obelisks which now house tomato plants are the centre of a vegetable garden ravaged daily by our hounds. Each planter holds three varieties of plants or three colours. A wrought iron planter is framed by St. Francis and the frog pot my mother presented me with several years ago. Three angels can be found protecting our home and three candle holders light the evening gently.
Beside the traditional BBQ lay two sheets of plywood. They are my amazing hubby’s weed management tool of choice. They are also a canvas for grandchildren armed with sidewalk chalk and a roadway for diggers being chased by dinosaurs! Atop and placed carefully (no one would know this but us) are two chairs others might remit to the landfill. One is a reminder of our wedding and the love we share. The other is a ripped, faded, and generally useless seat to all but our youngest grandchildren. It remains as a reminder of a daughter’s love on a Father’s Day past.
Wyatt I want you to know that gardens come in all sizes, styles, and temperments. They may be works of art or they may be happy accidents. Choose the style which makes you happy, fills your heart, and satisfies your thirst with peace. Find ways to enrich the lives of the lowly and the small; the intrepid travelers on earth who hide in the dirt. Plant beautiful things and let those untiring seeds of desire blowing on the wind guide you, protect you, and create a cover over the sharp-edged stones which you will undoubtedly encounter. And when you see a sign welcoming you to a garden remember to look beyond the expected and contemplate what it is that has been planted.
Welcome to our garden…
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