Monday, September 18
The Ghost of Gardens Past
While nosing around on the computer today, I found a couple of pictures that were taken at my old house... the place where my first feeble attempts at gardening occurred.
I made a lot of mistakes in that garden. Some in plant choice, several in plant placement, and still more in garden logistics and maintenance. I must not have taken any pictures of the more spectacular errors--or at least, I didn't save those pictures--because the ones I found weren't too bad. Not great, but not too bad.
It's interesting to look back on these and see that even while I was starting out I seemed to gravitate toward contrasting plant colors and textures. For example, 'Golden Tiara' hosta was underplanted with sedum 'Chubby Fingers' in front of the large rock that dominated the small bed near my front stoop.
Already the melding of form and function was underway, with cut flower plants like echinacea purpurea mixed in with golden oregano and golden sage in my herb garden, backed by a trellis that supported a jackmanii clematis. The planting softened the chimney wall, provided some good flavor for weekday suppers and even filled vases to dress up the kitchen counter.
I found that I had played around with odd combinations of color and texture, like lavender mixed with 'Red Dragon' persicaria and dwarf Siberian iris. I admire my willingness to play with color, but cringe at my lack of consideration for plant habit. I also obviously wasn't paying attention to the big picture or I would have noticed how the persicaria leaves get lost against the nuggets of pine bark mulch.
I thought about saving these pictures to post in winter while my new garden sleeps. However, today would have been my 7th anniversary had my ex-husband and I lasted that long together... so somehow it seemed more fitting to go ahead and post them now. Not for any maudlin reason, because I have no sadness or remorse attached to the relationship, the anniversary, or even the way things ended. But it seems a fitting time to reflect.
I left behind some beautiful plants, like this stand of great blue lobelia, because I knew that they would not fit well into my new sandy-soil garden. I brought with me many more plants--stalwarts like alchemilla mollis--that had reinforced their worth and validity to me over the years.
I took some plants like 'Hillside Black Beauty' actaea that may or may not work for me in the future, but I learned that I appreciate--no, need--to feel challenged in gardening as in all aspects of my life. I know that it's okay if I have a few small failures or make a few mistakes along the way as long as I keep my eye on the big picture and am always working on improving the garden and keeping it healthy and productive.
You could go back through those last two paragraphs and substitute "dreams" for "plants" and "relationship" for "garden"... the parallels are not hard to see. I appreciate the opportunity to start fresh in a new place, with new resources and a positive environment. I hope that the lessons I have learned--and am still learning--will keep turning me into a better gardener, and a better partner.