I may as well go ahead and fess up about something. It will come as a surprise to you all since all I do is talk about gardening, but I currently have no real garden to speak of at my home. In the month of August 2009 my husband and I bought our very first home. It has been a dream come true for us as we have always wanted a home of our own. A place where we could be free to create the projects we had discussed for almost a decade. I could not be happier with our new home, but it has required much love and time. For the past year most of that time has been spent indoors painting, decorating, repairing, etc. leaving very little opportunity to explore my new outdoor space.
I have to be honest here, this has been a very difficult transition for me. Everywhere I have lived there has been a garden. My first apartment was a 3 bedroom townhouse that had a postage stamp sized back porch. When I lived there I was working for a local plant nursery, it was my first horticulture job. Working for a plant nursery isn’t always the best place for a plant maniac to be. On the days that a truck would come the employees were given the option to buy plants at wholesale price, but only for that day. So basically every Thursday I would be on the phone calling my husband to say, “Um, honey there are some really beautiful orchids and if I get it today it will be half the price!” We were both in college at the time, which meant we had very little money to spare. When we first moved in our apartment the living room consisted of an entertainment center, papasan chair, and camping chair. I am a very lucky lady because my husband always supported me and my plant addiction, so my “postage stamp” became cluttered with plants in containers. It was so jam-packed that you could not even sit on the porch.
I loved my little container garden so much. Our office had a sliding glass door that overlooked the garden. On days that I spent hours in that room studying things like the photosynthesis cycle, I would look out the window and feel at peace. Hummingbirds would come to feed on my Salvia, green lizards would lounge on my 5 ft. tall Angel Trumpet, and butterflies would lay eggs on my parsley. This is the place where I fell head over heels with gardening. However, as much as I enjoyed this zenful space, I longed for the ability to plant things in the ground. I would sit around with my garden books like The Blessing of Toads by Sharon Lovejoy and pretend that tomorrow I would be digging in my compost pile. I would go through spells of garden depression since I worked around people all day who were going home to work in their gardens. I knew that I could plant if I really wanted to, but I was unwilling to place any roots in this temporary home. So everything remained in pots with the hope that someday I could plant my roots somewhere more permanent.
We lived at our townhouse for 4 years and then my wonderful cousin Angie made me an offer to live at her house. She and her family had moved to Oregon the previous year. Their son was diagnosed with Leukemia and they decided to move closer to a wonderful cancer hospital in Portland. He is currently cancer free!! So we were given the opportunity to rent this adorable house with the most beautiful yard as well! Her husband, Buddy, who is also a fellow horticulturalist had through the years created a lovely outdoor space. It already had the bones of the landscape, which was a plethora of fully mature trees and shrubs. A Sycamore, Gingko, Grancygrey Beard, Dogwood, Eucalyptus, Crape Myrtles, Gardenia to name just a few. Also, it came with 3 different ponds making water gardening endless. The largest pond had the most darling bridge across it. Can you guess the first thing I did when I received this house? That’s right I went out and spent over $200 on plants to build a butterfly garden. I could finally dig in the dirt!! After that I went on to construct an herb garden, vegetable garden, bird garden, compost pile (hee! hee!) and many other pockets of flowers everywhere. I get very nostalgic for this place because my husband and I shared such good times here. Many hours sitting on the swing identifying birds, lazy days swaying on the hammock, laying on the little bridge watching the light break through the leaves, pulling weeds on quiet mornings, planting seedlings at my potting bench, so many fond memories… Even though I was proud to have called this place home, I knew it would not last forever. At some point my husband and I would buy a place of our own, therefore, many of the plants from my apartment remained in pots. By this time some of them had been in containers for 6 years including a Redbud tree.
After 2 years of gardening bliss it was time to pack up and move me and my plants again. My favorite part of house hunting was imagining the garden of my dreams over and over again at each place we visited. When we first visited the home we bought the 8 fully grown Crape Myrtles were in glorious bloom. However, the rest of the yard consisted of overgrown Azaleas that blocked the windows, several invasives growing thick along the back fence line, and 4 cathedral-like oak trees. It was a fresh canvas with much room to grow. The bones of this garden are yet to be laid. I’ve spent much time watching where the light moves through the day and walking among the Crape Myrtles to find the path that will one day maneuver through them. I do have a garden plan, but due to its size it will be some time before it is complete. In the mean time I have planted a hydrangea hedge and a little collection of my favorite perennials. As for my containers that have traveled with me from place to place, some of them have already been set free into the soil of their final home. Among them is my precious Redbud tree that I planted in my back yard. I must confess that as I was watering it in tears filled my eyes. We finally had a place to establish our roots, and now we can grow into what we were always meant to be.