When living in a northern latitude country the anticipation of the coming spring can be overwhelming. Waiting for ephemerals to break through once frozen soil can hardly be contained. When I moved here there were no gardens adjacent to the hardwood forest. I would look out the windows and see only shades of brown. Slowly green growth would emerge from honeysuckle and spicebushes. I knew I needed more. Daffodils had been planted the front garden by the former owners. I decided to dig them out, separate the bulbs and move them to various places throughout the property. As gardens grew and daffodil clumps doubled in size, each subsequent season the clumps were dug up, bulbs separated and transplanted into gardens adjacent to the hardwood forest. I was also given a clump of daffodils from neighbor who had removed them from her parents grave site. Another clump came from a friend who rented a property where daffodils were growing in the nearby woods. I share this because all the daffodils you see in the photos are the “children” of all who grew here or were given to me. None were bought. They were all planted with love and tended to with gentleness and gratitude for what they give back to me each spring.
I started the gardens at Valley View in 2005. Each year I add and I subtract. I visit other gardens and watch gardening shows. During quiet moments one question persists – Why do I garden? Why do I spend countless hours creating a vista that may disappear tomorrow?
I really don’t have an answer but I have looked backward to see where I’ve been.
When I was 14 part of my parent’s property was taken by local government for a flood control project. Bulldozers came in widened the creek and left behind a mud pit. My mother and father were devastated. Their garden was gone. The following year willow trees fell and more damage was done to their space. I spent countless hours cutting tree branches and raking ground to bring life back because I wanted them to be happy. Fast forward to age 49. My husband and I bought that house and created gardens that made me smile. Then one morning it all disappeared in a flash flood. Oh the irony!
Now I garden at Valley View. First it was to take control of overgrown areas and create spaces where I could sit and enjoy what surrounded me.
Everything was done on the cheap. There was very little money for plants, let alone hardscaping. The bricks and patio block below are what you see in the above photos.
The next step in the evolution of the gardens was to make them wildlife friendly. I added plants specifically for native creatures.
I then began to remove invasive plants, which I continue to do to this day. After my desire to invite native wildlife, I wanted to create sacred spaces. A labyrinth and bowling ball pyramid were added.
I then learned about pollinators and wanted to add plantings to encourage their health. So back to natives.
I found myself ping ponging between trying to recreate what I saw or learned at that time. It has taken me awhile to understand that my garden should be for me and should reflect my inner being.
Now, I’m still not sure what that is. But I should not be ashamed of liking non-native hostas and wild unkempt pollinator gardens. I am fortunate to have the space for both.
Reflecting on my past involvements with gardens, I venture to say I have always been trying to recreate something I’ve seen rather than create something of my own. It’s time for me to take pleasure in my own creative endeavors. For once again, I’ve learned it might not be there tomorrow.