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.
Then 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.
In 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