When my husband Murph and I bought this home 50 years ago we thought it was a pretty great place already – a good-sized yard with lots of trees. Today, all these years later, our yard looks very different, mature but not overgrown, tended by the two of us who have grown older but are just as passionate about gardening as ever.
As with other devoted gardeners, puttering in the yard doesn’t feel like work. Often it’s a satisfying calming exercise, a meditation. Sometimes I’m so stretched or contorted I feel like I’m doing yoga. While watering plants I want time to stop and pull out any sneaky weeds or to snip off flowers that need dead-heading. I can’t wait to plant that flat of impatiens in the shade in early summer or to divide some perennial to share with a friend. Anticipating the tulips, daffodils and pasqueflowers to come up each spring is a sign of hopefulness in all of us.
Gardening brings out our artistic talents. Figuring out the placement of new plants or a garden sculpture, using colors that complement each other, creating variety in the height and shapes of the flowers – all while considering their water and light needs – keeps it all interesting. When the canopy of the large ash tree in our front yard grew to be about 50 feet wide, the lawn grew thin, so out came the grass under the tree. My palette became the shades of green and textures found in hostas, variegated brunnera and other shade-loving plants to create an inviting garden under that tree. Parts of our yard are designed to provide privacy for ourselves and our good neighbors. Solving the challenges in the garden in an attractive way is part of the fun.
Having all the flowering plants as well as keeping up bird feeders year-round has brought us and our grandkids a great deal of pleasure in watching and identifying several varieties of birds and many bees. Some years in May the western tanagers take turns at our suet feeders, or we’ll have a hawk take a bath in a birdbath. One January we had a small flock of thirsty cedar waxwings sitting in our pond plants. Year round we have towhees running around the shrubs near the bird feeder. Once an unusual bird appeared on the birdfeeder and the 5-year-old granddaughter jumped up from lunch on the deck yelling, “I’ll go get the bird books!” We were simply tickled to see her excitement.
Murph, who has built all our fences and arbors and made the fish pond, jumps on a new project I suggest so quickly that I have to be positive I really wanted it done. This dear man loves a project or to dig holes to plant a shrub or tree. So, though often I dream up the project, he does the hard labor. We love to do our thing in the yard, then sit back in one of our shaded spots with a cold drink and relax. We are at peace. Gardening is truly a joy for us.