When my husband Murph and I bought this house 50 years ago, we thought it was already a great place – a good sized yard with lots of trees. Today, all these years later, our garden looks very different, mature but not overgrown, tended by the two of us who have aged but are still as passionate about gardening as ever.
Like other dedicated gardeners, busying yourself in the yard doesn’t feel like work. It is often a satisfying calming exercise, a meditation. Sometimes I’m so stretched or twisted that I feel like I’m doing yoga. While watering plants, I want time to stop and pull out sneaky weeds or cut flowers that need cutting. I can’t wait to plant this dish of impatiens in the shade in early summer or divide a few perennials to share with a friend. Anticipating the arrival of tulips, daffodils and pasqueflowers each spring is a sign of hope in all of us.
Gardening brings out our artistic talents. Determining the placement of new plants or a garden sculpture, using colors that complement each other, creating variety in the height and shapes of flowers – while considering their water and light needs – makes everything this interesting. When the canopy of the large ash tree in our front yard grew to a width of about 50 feet, the lawn thinned out, so the grass came out from under the tree. My palette became the shades of green and textures found in hostas, variegated brunnera and other shade-loving plants to create an inviting garden under this tree. Parts of our yard are designed to ensure our privacy and that of our good neighbours. Solving challenges in the garden in an engaging way is part of the fun.
Having all the flowering plants as well as maintaining the bird feeders all year round has brought us and our grandchildren a lot of fun observing and identifying several varieties of birds and many bees . Some years in May, western tanagers take turns at our suet feeders, or we will have a falcon taking a bath in a birdbath. One January we had a small flock of thirsty cedar waxwings sitting in our pond plants. Year round we have tows running around the shrubbery near the bird feeder. Once, an unusual bird appeared on the feeder, and the 5-year-old granddaughter got up from lunch on the deck, shouting, “I’ll get the bird books!” We were just thrilled to see her excitement.
Murph, who built all of our fences and arbors and did the fish pond, jumps on a new project that I suggest so quickly I have to be sure I really wanted it done. This dear man likes a project or digging holes to plant a shrub or a tree. So, although often I imagine the project, it is he who does the heavy lifting. We like to do our thing in the yard and then sit in one of our shady spots with a cold drink and relax. We are at peace. Gardening is really a pleasure for us.