Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Things change gradually but we notice them suddenly

My gardening life is going through changes. I'm not shopping for miatas or mistresses but things feel different than they did just a few years ago. I'm transitioning from installing a garden to finishing off and maintaining a garden. I did love the exuberant excitement and anticipation, even the feeling of power (I admit it Thomas), that went along with making beds, creating hardscape, installing new plantings...but much of that is finished now.

This past weekend the dogs and I spent a lot of time in the garden, my home garden that is. Where I used to see infinite possibilities I'm now looking at a somewhat confused actuality. The space has turned on its head over the past 27 years. Two tiny concrete stoops are covered with two large sunny decks that despite how they feel to me, aren't new anymore. Terracing (by hand with shovel and wheelbarrow) has totally reconfigured the topography of the back garden. Eight fairly large trees are gone, victims of storm or chainsaw. We had three removed (two dead, one too close to the house) since summer. Maybe that's whats prompting my introspection. It's getting a bit late in the game for me to be planting major trees.

Not to worry; we still have plenty of trees. With two horticultural professionals in the house there's been no shortage of plants flowing into this garden and some of them were trees. Several times I essayed attempts at planning the garden on paper, prompted by an intellectual awareness that ultimately all this planting, when it came to fruition, ought to lead to a coherent conclusion.  In all  those attemps though, I failed miserably at confining the garden to paper and ink, so we forged ahead and the actual garden came out rather nicely. I expect because experience, experiment, and repetition are good teachers. Spending 27 here years has taught me some of the subtleties of light, drainage, and soil particular to this site.

So I'm thinking that now I'm in the "finishing" phase; the earth moving has been done, excepting the large (~80 x 75 foot) compost area at the back of the property which I will leave to the next generation. Beds have been created. Woody plants are in place and and many have begun to approach mature sizes. Slow colonizing perennials and bulbs have been in the ground long enough to establish themselves.Still there's work to do but it's a different kind of work; it's maintenance. It was exciting planting small trees that I knew would eventually overtop the house but it's also satisfying to tend plants you've already planted. Pruning, deadheading, occasional fertilizing, hand watering during droughts are all enjoyable tasks that allow me to be part of the garden.

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