How to create a garden and how to say goodbye to a garden!
One year ago we sold our house in the country, and instead bought a lovely old house in a community. Most people probably miss something from their last house, but what I miss the most is the garden! I don’t regret moving, absolutely not, but the garden! If I only could have been able to move the garden with me!
We stayed in our last house for twenty years. It was located far out in the woods, no neighbours, no street light, no signs of humans. Our neighbour was the forest and the forest dwellers. It was also a life with many animals like dogs, cats, chickens and ducks and it was a life I loved during that time. But things change. Kids grow up, new job elsewhere and living far out in the countryside wasn't so easy any more.
When we purchased the property twenty years ago, there was no garden, as I see it. It was an endless boring 2 000 square meters flat green lawn with few trees and shrubs and some very narrow flower beds full of weeds, etc.
I have never understood the fascination or interest with a large lawn. The only thing you can do with it or use it for, is games and ball games, and for that you don’t need 2 000 square meters anyway. We did spend many, many hours with taking care of the lawn those first 6 years; mow, rake, fertilize. And for what? No, after a few years we decided that enough is enough and the transformation began.
Bit by bit of the lawn was dug out and replaced with a GARDEN! I am not a garden designer, but I’ve learned a few tricks by trial and error and got some experience. In the beginning, our economy wasn’t so well, so therefore everything had to be done by hand, using a shovel and a wheelbarrow. We started small, tiny flower beds here and there. But as the years went by, the flower beds had to be enlarged and sort of grow together. And with bigger flower beds came the need for plants and shrubs. In order to save money, I sowed the seeds of perennials and shrubs. The place of seedlings grew each year, and with the larger numbers of plants, grew the need of larger flowerbeds. So we kept on digging. Our friends and relatives probably wondered now and then, when they saw the big areas that we took on.
But to dig by hand has many advantages; there is time to think and you see how the garden slowly emerging. In the process, you can make small adjustments which are important, because, no matter how good you are with the sketch block, there are always small adjustments required when it should be performed in real.
You will also get exercise and the advantage of spending time in the garden – gardening as therapy is underestimated. And a wheelbarrow and a shovel do not make much damage in our garden and you have access to even the narrowest place in the garden. If you bring in a big excavator to perform the work, everything goes quickly, but that requires a very detailed plan from the beginning, and the machine destroys a lot with their big wheels. Even now, when we can afford to hire someone, I prefer the shovel and wheelbarrow! And the satisfaction when you have finished a big job is great, then you can pat yourself on the back, sit down and enjoy!
Since this garden was flat, and the soil was fertile and a bit muddy, I decided to build raised flower beds. This was also an advantage to prevent that plant roots stood deep into the ground where it at times were very wet, specially during fall and winter. With slightly raised beds I had several advantages, the soil warmed up earlier in the spring, the plants did not have to stand with their feet in water, but at the same time, the somewhat wet ground kept the garden moisture most of the hot summer without to much aid from me.
After a few years our dreams increased and we wanted a pond in the garden. So, we had to start digging! Through experience, we learned how much left over soil there was when the ponds and gravel paths was dug. And over the years, we did developed a way to save both power and time by quit transporting leftover masses across the whole garden. We simply did the same as they do when roads and other infrastructure are built; we calculated the masses from the beginning and tried to use the leftover masses very near where they arisen. So instead of transporting the soil with the aid of a wheelbarrow we used the soil on the spot in big uplifted flower beds!
Just before we sold the property, the garden in front of the house was ready. And I can still see it before my eyes. I can remember how it felt to sit by the pond; hear the murmuring from the small waterfall and the birds. I remember the well-being from my walks through the garden on the gravel paths, when I every morning investigated what has happened in the flower beds during night. I noticed which perennials that where blooming and which ones that needed a little care. Those morning walks with my morning coffee was a cherished habit.
I brought some of the plants with me when we moved. I only took the most beloved plants and shrubs, those that mattered most to me. It was those plants and shrubs that where given to me by people that means a lot to me, some plants I bought on trips or special places with many memories attached to them. But I had to leave behind most of the plants, and there are many old friends that I miss. I took a last slow walk through the garden before we left the house for the last time, I kind of said goodbye to those left behind. (I know that they are just plants, but I talk to them anyway). I console myself with that the garden lives on, because the property was purchased by a couple with a large garden interest. And the lovely lady who purchased the property assured me that I could come back at any time. So, now the garden brings joy to others and I keep my garden in my memory.
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