IN THE GARDEN

Fortunately my friend, John, is helping me with the garden.  I know I said before that  it was one bed at a time and the technique really worked, but then, I do need to be up and running for any potential buyers before many weeks go by. The idea is to make it look as if it isn’t all THAT much work. And of course, it is. That and then some. But if it’s  reasonably tidy, and one only sees the fruits of one’s labor and not the actual labor needed, all the better. And as I’m writing this I’m feeling this smacks of some of that higgily-piggily stuff I want to sort out in the inner me and perhaps is a small black mark in subterfuge. Perhaps there is a reason why with every house we’ve sold in the past, the buyers declared that they LOVED the garden, it was the reason they so wanted the property, and then they promptly took out the garden after the deal was done.  Not exactly “took out’ as in totally decimated, but definitely took down a few pegs, many pegs, to a manageable state. That history should give me a big hint about what exactly to expect.

I should really take heed because I, myself, have been bemoaning for some time the very fact that I did, once again, put in a too, too laborious garden. In my defense I didn’t really grasp the fact that I would be 70 plus some day. So, of course, I plowed ahead, literally, and double-dug and added truckloads from Cal Poly of compost and planted 50 plus heirloom roses and every kind of perennial and lots of flowering trees. Sometimes I felt  that I alone must be supporting the nice ladies who owned Bay Laurel Nursery in Atascadero. And to add to the difficulty, the garden, the deer fenced part of the garden, is terraced so there is no easy wheel-barrowing, only what I call bucketing.

I suppose it has something to do with obsessiveness. And uber-enthusiasm.  As in – I think I’ll collect every known kind of Salvia.  That would be fun.  Until I stumble across a book on Salvias and realize that the hundreds of sages were way beyond my accumulation and planting ability.  AND of course, ditto on the heirloom roses. Although I’ve become closer on that account.

Somehow it becomes so fascinating to plant and try-out and experiment and just “see” how a particular plant will pan out. You can read a dozen gardening books, but only the up close and personal  will truly bring out the reality of the delicious scent of Salvia Clevlandia as you’re strolling down the path  on an early evening or the astoundingly  delicate pink of Cuisse de Nymphe, the Maiden’s Blush Rose of 15th century France, lovely beyond belief. Too many plants, not enough time.

All this in spite of the fact that my basic garden design and my preferred house décor have gone from somewhat “busy” to far more zen over time. I think Robert and I have been a great balance for each other in that regard. When we first got together, my old rambling Craftsman was tasteful, I think, but definitely filled with lots of Victoriana spilling over every surface. He, however, lived more like a monk. So, as you can imagine, it was a gradual adjustment over the years, and we have both profited I believe, by an adjustment toward the middle.

When I eventually go to the house on Mt. Faith I will need to be very careful. It has a large yard and I was initially thrilled because it was basically a “blank slate”.  Oops. Danger! Danger! Somehow I must reign in my natural obsessive enthusiasm. Especially because adjusting from California to Minnesota is a far more fascinating challenge than adjusting from Ferndale to Carmel Valley. Just what could I do with lilacs? Can you imagine growing peonies? It’s a whole, new horticultural laboratory of my own making. Too, too heady and thrilling. I must take a deep breath, remember to be realistic, move towards the center of Robert’s Zen, and create something just right.

And while I’m contemplating that, it occurred to me that I could spend my last days here on Castenada Lane not only making things tidy for the new owner, but I could make a garden book and guide, mapping out the plantings by name, relating the history and special needs of each plant, noting the characteristics and idiosyncrasies, the feeding schedule, and by so doing they might, just might decide that they too loved the garden enough to keep it and love it as much as I have.

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