tulips and forsythia

A Little About My Gardens, Past and Present

great-grandfather
My son and his great-grampa, 1978

I recently read a blog post where the writer explained about her backyard garden.  She included photos and her plans for each area of the outdoor space.  You can read it at the Hairytoegardener’s blog.

Growing up in Massachusetts, I lived on a hill overlooking my grandfather’s huge vegetable and flower garden.  I remember him always there, working in the garden (except in winter of course).  I can still picture him jiggling along with that old rototiller digging up the earth.  I wish I had run down and helped him do what he did, because I could have learned first hand how to be a successful grower of fabulous fresh vegetables.

I think he liked the solitude of gardening, so I would have been an unwanted pest maybe.  But as I recall, my grandfather was always kind and enjoyed us kids being around.  I think he could have taught me a thing or two about gardening.

Grampa's garden
The Field and Garden – after Grandfather was gone

Anyway, I never really got into gardening mainly because I had children who took up all my time. I presently have a 40 year old son, a 19 year old son, and two more in between. The most gardening I have done over the years were in my big Florida yard, where I planted everything tropical I could get my hands on, and in New England where I truly enjoyed digging in the ground.

I’ve lived at 16 different addresses. Some of those for only a very short time. In fact, one address was merely wishful thinking. I never actually had the chance to move in, but my items were there for a few weeks. The condo I was about to rent flooded from a burst pipe, and it was necessary to find an alternate place to live – temporarily.

I’ve spent many of my later years in survival mode, and that means I didn’t get to even think about such frivolous things as gardening.

But, when I had the chance to allow my mind to dream of a backyard full of flowers and blooming trees, and an herb garden, and picking ripe tomatoes, I worked relentlessly to make it happen. A lack of land restrained me somewhat, but in the first home, which was all my own, in New Hampshire, I planted in every available sunny spot I could find.  I did it all by myself, and I had a beautiful spot to enjoy.

backyard garden
My New Hampshire Backyard & Gardens

However, before that home, I had another New Hampshire home. It was the last place I lived.  Really, those were the last days of my life.  At that time, I lived more like most of the population. I was a normal person. And my husband (now ex) and I bought a house with land..!!!!… that had a wonderful array of gardens and ornamental trees, with a gorgeous forsythia hedge by the road.   In spring, I saw the tulips and daffodils pop out of the earth… imagine!  There is none of that in Florida.

Immediately I began to study the New England plant varieties and saw my yard becoming even more stunning as I planned to include more and more new shrubs and trees over the years.   In the two summers I lived here, I expanded the garden, adding a block pathway, bird feeders and bird baths.  There was an asparagus garden – I’d never had that before – and we saw black bear, turkeys and deer in the yard.  There was even a wisteria growing over a backyard arbor (not in the photos).  Yes, I could have lived here for the rest of my life, but two years later we were gone.

tulips and forsythia
Forsythia and Tulips, Spring at my first NH home
backyard garden
New Hampshire 1st backyard – photo taken from a skylight on the 2nd floor

When I write about my first NH house, it’s like I am talking about another person’s life. It was only 12 years ago that I lived here, but it seems like 100.

Today my yard is small and my house is surrounded by St. Augustine grass which grows like thick vines intertwining with itself.   This makes it incredibly difficult to remove – if I wanted to plant a garden.  Instead I have chosen a raised bed to grow vegetables (hopefully).   The plantings in the yard are simple and easy to care for as this was a home owned by some wealthy people who rented it out over the 12 years they owned it.  There is even a sprinkler system.  It’s a self-sufficient house.

So I have begun yet again to try to establish a beautiful yard. Except now I am older, and struggle with a disease that saps my energy. The gardening bug, once installed in our DNA, is impossible to ignore. My mind says “it’s too hot here, give up and just be at peace with the yard as it is”.

But my heart calls me to don those gloves and go out and dig!  Collect seeds, experiment with new plantings, take clippings and see if they will root and become new plants on their own.

The old dreams of a beautiful garden in my backyard are gone, but I feel good about the fact that when I had the chance, however fleeting the opportunity, I made the best of it.  I’ve left some great gardens behind.  I guess it was my tiny contribution to the planet.

Still, I can’t stop.

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4 thoughts on “A Little About My Gardens, Past and Present

  1. Your former gardens were absolutely beautiful and your grandfather sounds very special. But even as we age and have health issues, we can still garden, it just takes more thought to do it.

    What you don’t know is my former husband (now deceased) was in an awful bicycle accident when he was 8 y/o that left him in a coma for 3 months. Doctors said he would die. He didn’t; however, when he woke up there was extensive damage to the optic nerves in both his eyes, and this left him legally blind.–Only depth perception in one eye and 20/800 in the other. At age 12, he ended up attending the School for the Blind. Despite this, he went to college and became a computer programmer. He was also a very talented gardener. He laid 85 feet of brick pathway, a 30 ft rock path, and installed one 100 x 10 ft bed and two 85 ft free-form garden beds and they LOOKED great–not as if a blind man installed them. If he could do it, you and I can do it. I sometimes whine and moan about my limitations, but they were nothing like his.–He was smart enough to figure out ways to work around his disability.

    Your words, “The gardening bug, once installed in our DNA, is impossible to ignore.” are on the mark!

    Thanks for the shout-out to my blog. I appreciate it.

    1. Your husband was obviously an inspirational and determined man. Sounds like you had a splendid yardscape! It is quite amazing how far we can go to adjust to what life throws our way.

  2. What a wonderful post, full of beautiful nostalgic images. If gardening is in your blood, like it is mine, you just have to go with it. For me, it’s getting close to nature, seeing its wonders grow before you 🙂 I wish I had a larger garden, mine is only small, but I make the most of what I have. Thank you for sharing such a lovely post 🙂

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