Beginning Anew

It started out simply enough, I had a few trees that were long overdue for a trimming.  But you know that old saying, “In for a penny in for a pound” ….

Over the years things had grown wild and crooked in my garden, plants blocked windows and paths. Several trees had reached so far to find the sun they were literally in the neighbor’s yard.

And then there were the plants I had never liked, that had been there when we bought the house over twenty years ago. Mind you, they were tough (they’d survived my care), but my husband had refused to let them go.

As I looked around at this garden that had been ‘our’ garden, I found myself accepting, even welcoming, the realization that I alone got to make decisions now about the garden, no explanation, no apology required.

The day arrived and the crew pulled up to the curb.  I had said goodbye to the redbud we’d planted together, the aralia my husband had planted accidentally from a 4” that now leaned over the roof.  But as the chainsaw roared to life, my stomach clenched and I couldn’t help but wonder if I’d made a mistake.

bare soilThen we were underway and there was no turning back.  After that initial jolt it eased – the doubt, the guilt.  This was what I wanted, what I needed.  I wanted light, needed space.  I was tired of looking at plants I hated.

So imagine the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland, only instead of shouting “off with her head,” it became “out with that plant!”  Out came the Bird of Paradise 20+ years old, covered with white flies, out came the salvia that had grown woody and old, out came the lantana that had gotten sheared into a box, out came that awful ugly ivy that grew onto everything.  Out, out, out!

At the end of two days the chainsaws were finally quiet. Tools were put away, and I listened to the last echoes of raking and sweeping before they stepped into their truck and drove away.

In the silence I looked around. The ground is churned and trampled where plants came out, and there is a hole where the redbud stood.  The pain of the emptiness is there but fleeting.  I breathe deep once and then again.  There is light now in my kitchen, on the patio.  The plants I’d resented are gone. The way is clear.

With all this space, all this light, I’m not anxious to crowd it again.  I am taking note of the design lessons I’ve learned.  In the middle of the night, I’ve awakened to design ideas, plant inspirations, bringing in what I’ve always dreamed of rather than what I’d inherited. I have my small group of natives purchased from the plant sale waiting for their new home.

apple-treeIn order for new things to grow, we must sometimes (painfully) let go of the old.  As I breathe deep and wipe away a tear, I am gently, softly, lovingly, accepting that I am remaking this garden in my own image.

#grief, #healinggarden, #memorialgarden


About Marianne Simon

It was in 1999 that Marianne Simon left her cushy job with MGM to start her own landscape business, but, her love of nature goes way back. In fact, while most kids were making mud pies, Marianne was eating them. Since then, her choice of dining venues has changed, but not her affinity to the earth. She founded her Landscape Company, Poetic Plantings, with the vision of creating gardens that would nurture the spirit and nourish the earth. She received her certificate in Landscape Architecture from UCLA Extension and is a G3 (Green Gardens Group) Certified Sustainable Landscape Professional. She is also a proud member of Santa Monica's Sustainable Landscape Program, as well as having been nominated for Santa Monica's Sustainable Quality Award. These days her focus is educating and consulting for homeowners and professionals on watershed wise landscape practices. She also works with G3 creating curriculum, leading workshops, and developing workforce development programs.
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