Gossip in the Garden

Harmony in the Garden's Chattier Side

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Saying goodbye to my garden

One of the smartest things I’ve ever done is to give myself a long, long time to say goodbye to my garden.  In just a few weeks I’ll be leaving it forever, and I can honestly say that my heart is at peace.

I’ve given myself plenty of time to sit still and absorb as much as I can, filling my memory bank to the point of overflowing. I’ve given myself time to cry and mourn the fact that time marches on despite our best intentions of keeping it bottled up, and to embrace the hard fact that nothing stays the same.

After graduating college in May, my daughter spent the entire month of June here, wanting to take it all in before we all move on in life. Before heading back to LA last week, we walked through the garden together one last time; grateful for all the incredible memories we’ve shared together in this magical place. This garden has made an indelible mark in our hearts that we’ll carry with us for the rest of our lives.

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To help ease the pain of this transition, we had fun and hid little treasures around the garden for the new little boys to find over the years.

Things like shells, unusual and beautiful rocks, tumbled glass hearts with the words ‘love’ and ‘kisses,’ mushroom garden art, and a planter in the shape of a giant frog are just a few of the things tucked around here and there waiting to be found by little hands.

It made us so happy to imagine the joy they’ll feel at finding something left for them.

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But now the time has come to say goodbye.

The bouts of sadness that seem to come farther and farther apart are quickly replaced with moments of pure joy, imagining what lies ahead. We’ve just purchased a new home, and even though the current garden is okay, it needs me as much as I need it. I cannot wait to get my hands in the dirt!

But until that day, I need to focus on the task at hand and say a proper goodbye to my garden.   Over the past few weeks, I’ve been spending an hour or so every day giving my babies one last haircut, tidying them up, so they all look their best for their new owners.  GreenBar

People ask why I bother to continue this hard work when the garden is no longer mine. The reason is simple: I assume the new homeowners will be overwhelmed (for the first few months, at least) and the least I can do is to leave them a garden that won’t need much tending until the end of summer.

Plus, who am I kidding – it’s also my chance to personally acknowledge each plant and quietly thank them for all they’ve given me.

I’ve joked that I’m going to leave my garden looking like a moonscape, digging up and relocating every single thing to my new garden. But the reality is I’m leaving everything pretty much as-is (except for my birdhouses, and personal objects sprinkled throughout.)

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There are, of course, some plants that are making the trip with me. The determining factor has been if they can easily be replaced, they’re staying, but if they have sentimental value, they’re making the trip.   And for those of you who know me, I have a lot of memories tied to my plants (click here for proof!)  Since I’ve been planning for this move over a year now, I’ve had plenty of time to dig up and replace some of the larger plants while they were dormant and before our home went on the market.  But for the most part, I’ve been growing new plants from cuttings of my favorites.

Initially, I thought I’d have just a handful of little cuttings (I can hear you all laughing now), but as the time gets closer and closer to driving away one last time, I realize I have amassed quite a collection of memory-infused plants. Here are just a few that have made the cut, and why:

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‘Spring Song’ rose

I bought this rose (on the left, competing for attention with the weigela on the right) over 23 years ago.  I was 8-months pregnant and visiting my favorite garden shop of all time, Heart’s Ease. It was in a quart sized pot and was so pretty; I just had to have it.

Owned by Sharon Lovejoy, Heart’s Ease transformed my love of gardening into a full-blown passion.  Little did I know that decades later Sharon and I would reconnect and become good friends!

The rose is now over 4-feet tall, and no longer in production (if it is, I certainly can’t find it!) and is one of my favorites, reminding me of my early days as a young mother and gardener.

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Echeveria imbricata

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Many of my garden beds are bordered with hundreds of tightly packed hens-and-chicks, making it easy to take a few with me to my new garden. While I can easily find these succulents at local nurseries, the ones growing in my garden are the offspring of a giant cluster given to my parents when they were first married.

Moving into their first new home, and on a tight budget, they barely had any money leftover to spend on their garden. One day a man was driving through their neighborhood in a pickup truck piled high with inexpensive handmade redwood patio furniture that he was selling door to door.  The price was right and, in addition to a few chairs to put in their garden, the man threw in a clump of hens-and-chicks as a bonus.  And here they are, happy as can be in my current (and future!) garden.

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Mystery Iris

Even though I’m not a huge fan of many iris varieties, this is one that’s coming with me.  Not only are the deep purple (almost black) flowers one of my favorite colors but it was taken from a clump growing in my grandmother’s garden.

This, and the freely-flowering Feverfew (also from my grandmother’s garden) will always be a part of whatever garden I find myself in!

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Mystery Hydrangea

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I have no idea what variety this is, as it was mislabeled when I bought it at a nursery years and years ago (it was supposed to be white!)   I wish I knew what it was, as it’s the most amazing drought tolerant hydrangea I’ve ever seen.  It not only puts on a show every year with scads of giant pink clusters of flowers, but it’s never wilted despite the heatwaves it’s endured over the years.

It’s located in a garden bed surrounded by drought tolerant plants, and I’m always amazed at how it thrives with the bare minimum of water, effortlessly sailing through our hot summer weather.  Once fall temperatures arrive, the blooms turn a beautiful antique rose color, too. Luckily I was able to easily start two new plants from cuttings, and before I go I think I’ll start a few more for my friends.

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‘Toyosho’ ornamental pomegranate

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One of the more unusual plants in my garden is a drought-tolerant, ornamental pomegranate topiary.  Purchased many years ago at a long forgotten nursery, it’s one of the most commonly asked about plants when giving spring garden tours.

 

I just adore the voluptuous, soft peach colored blooms that cover it in early spring almost as much as the bright yellow fall foliage.

Since I’ve never seen another one for sale, this beauty is coming with me.

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My next blog post will cover the other plants that are coming with me – those little trial plants sent to me by various growers over the years.

While they may not be infused with memories, they hold a special place in my heart.

Stay tuned for an update on how they’ve fared over the years!

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38 Responses to Saying goodbye to my garden

  1. Hello Rebecca, I hope all is going well for you. I can only imagine how hard it is to say goodbye to your lovely garden. But, I sense you are ready for a change and a new challenge. I wish you much luck in finding a home you can “feather” and a garden looking for your touch. Please remember I live not far from GB and would love to meet up if you ever find yourself with some extra time. I wish you all the very best!

  2. Dear Rebecca, not only are you a very kind person, you’re a great designer and writer. You are also a poet, who knows how to touch our souls. I plan to bookmark this one for the day I leave my garden. Thank you for all your inspiration–and that to come–I can’t wait to read about your latest adventures. XXOO Linda

    • Wow, Linda, what a sweet thing to say. Thank you! I look forward to sharing my new gardening adventures with you and might even pick your brain as to what does really well in the intense heat (you should know, right?) It’ll be 105 this weekend in Granite Bay – yikes!!!

  3. Thank you Rebecca for sharing your love of your garden. I know the Sacramento garden will be gorgeous because my parents Sacramento garden was where I learned my love for flowers and gardens. And thanks for leaving behind Christine’s special secret garden for all of us to enjoy. You are truly blessed. Love, Sylvia Benzler

    • Thank you Sylvia, I wish I could’ve seen your parent’s garden in Sacramento! And I’m so glad to hear Christine’s garden is giving you all so much joy – send me photos sometime as I’d love to see it! I hope to see you soon – enjoy your summer. xoxo

  4. Enjoy your new home and new garden. I will look forward to photos of the new garden and how everything blooms in the Sacramento weather. My parents Sacramento garden was always so beautiful (no cap on the water for years) and I am sure you will be blessed as well. Thanks for creating our Christine’s garden. Love, Sylvia Benzler

  5. Oh if you ever find out the name of your hydrangea please do a post on it. What a gift to find such a beautiful drought tolerant variety.

  6. I saw your fantastic garden once with a garden club tour. I was jealous then and am still jealous thinking of what you accomplished in your garden. I work in my garden, but it will never be as special as yours, even though I have several platntings that I love – like the tall white Shasta daisies from my mothers garden. I am now 82 years old and I do not have the energy or strength to do what I’d like to do. But my plants and flowers are one of my big joys. Even if I feel “under the weather”, I always feel better in the garden. I wish you good health an much happiness in your new home and garden.

    • I’m so glad you were able to visit my garden, Gloria. As you know, creating a garden is a LOT of work which is one of the many reasons why its so hard to leave! I just pray I have it in me to do it all over again (in the blistering heat of Granite Bay, no less!!) Sitting in one of my ‘to go’ containers is a cutting of beautiful soft yellow colored Shasta Daisies – I’ll think of you when I plant them. Isn’t it wonderful that your garden continues to give you so much happiness and strength? We are lucky people to have gardens touch our souls like they do.

  7. I am so happy to hear that you have had time for a long goodbye, to savor the garden and life you created in your family home and begin the transition to the new home and garden you will be creating. More than anything I am glad to hear that you are well, filled with life energy, and ready for a new journey. Sending love and blessings

  8. Thank you for being for being a kind person. I work at Yamagami’s and I always appreciate seeing you when you would come in.

    • What a sweet thing to say, Grace, thank you! I’m so sad to be moving so far from Yamagami’s – your nursery (and YOU!) are one of a kind and will sorely be missed. Luckily, I’ll still be coming down here every month or so to continue working with my clients so you haven’t seen the last of me. After all, where else will I find those beautiful treasures to complete my designs??!!

  9. Pass the tissues. I just finished reading this and it is testimony to you as not only a gardener, but also a caring, tender soul. Leaving those treasures for the children who will be moving in was a fine touch. Thank you for that.

    I am happy that one of your treasures from my Heart’s Ease gardens will journey north with you and flourish in your new creation.

    You are going to have many adventures ahead of you and we, all of us out here who love you, want to go along for the ride.

    Sending love and faretheewells,

    Sharon

    • Thank you, Sharon. Pass the tissues, is an understatement after reading everyone’s heartfelt comments! I’m looking forward to sharing my new adventures with you and hope to have you visit one day on your way to Tahoe so I can show you your ‘Spring Song’ in person! Thank you for all of your support over the years, you’ll never know how much you mean to me. 🙂

  10. I feel a little ashamed to be sad because I’m going to miss these blogs about your garden so much. I feel that I just ‘found’ you (about a year ago) and now I’m ‘losing’ you. Like a kindred spirit that you have looked for, for a long time, and finally found only to have to say goodbye. I know that it’s selfish, but it’s true!

    As all of your friends have commented, you are generous and kind to care for your garden and leave it in the best condition for the new owners. I have no doubt that they will love and respect it too. What a wonderful environment for young children to grow up in. It will color their future and shape them.

    We are also looking to move on – hopefully to more space with nature and quiet and lots of room to garden! Know that you will be missed but all the wonderful knowledge that you have shared with all of us will have an impact on us for the rest of our lives too. The love of gardening and good friends unites us all! Enjoy your new home and building another beautiful garden Rebecca. I wish you endless happiness!

    • Oh, Ronnie – what a sweet comment! But you’re not losing me at all – I’ll be writing about my adventures with this new garden, with new photos, and new experiences. I feel like I’ve tapped out my current garden (ha!) and had to move to discover more material to write about. 😉 I wish you the best of luck with your move, and hope you find that perfect spot with nature, quiet and more space (we sure did!!) Life is one big adventure, isn’t it?

  11. It’s a pleasure to read your posts. I wish you much happiness and very dirty fingernails in your new garden!

  12. As I sit here teary eyed I find myself at a loss for words….not a normal thing for me as you know….lol!
    I am extremely touched by your ability to think of others when saying goodbye to your garden which has held so much meaning for you.
    I am also so inspired by your move and your ability to go after the things in life that are most important to you…your family.
    I know that I will be on the same journey some day and will look back and laugh as I try and decide which of my babies to take with me.
    If you forgot one you also know that I am just across the street and can sneak over and clip something 🙂
    xoxo, Lisa

    • You’re next, Lisa! I know you’ll make the move when the time is right – not quite yet, but soon. In the meantime, start those cuttings!! (and thanks for the offer to pilfer…I might just take you up on it!)

  13. What a lovely tribute to a garden that has meant so much to you and your family over the years. You are at heart a philosopher, always aware of the bigger picture, and I love that about you. This is my favorite phrase, “time marches on despite our best intentions of keeping it bottled up.” Poignant, true, and I heard Jim Croce’s song in my head. (Now that’s good writing!) Onward to even better things, dear one. And just think, your “old” garden will always exist, just as you left it, because you documented it so perfectly in words, photos and memories.

    • Thank you for such a sweet comment, Debra. I’ve certainly turned into a philosopher with this move – boy, it brings out the emotions!!! You’re so right in saying my garden will always exist in memory, photos, and my blog. Now it’s time to create a new one, with new stories to write!!! Sending you a big, giant hug. xoxoxo

  14. Rebecca you can’t how much your article means to ne. The cost of housing in Northern Calif. is so high that while we own our home , our children will never be able to buy a home here… so, they want us
    move with them. No one understands that 32 years building a garden that you visit evety morning , as one visits a dear friend,is a labor of love that is hard to leave behind. I feel the same as you after cancer and wanting family near so I’m sure we will give up our home eventually… thanks for the encouragment and advice to take cuttings now! I have hydrangeas I simply can’t live without!I can’t to see what magic you do in your new garden!

    • Donna, when the time is right you’ll be amazed at how easy it is to say goodbye. If anyone would’ve asked me a few years ago if I’d ever consider leaving this garden, I wouldn’t have even considered it! You and I seem to be walking a very similar path, so enjoy and love your garden like you do until the time comes when you wake up one morning and feel things shifted just a tad. And when happens, rejoice in the excitement of something new that lies ahead!!! 🙂

  15. Rebecca, I love reading your blog. Although I have moved and created different gardens through the years, I can really relate to the emotion of this experience. I am so happy that you are taking plants and cuttings with you. I know that your new garden will become a joy of its own! I wish you luck with the move and happiness with being so close to your dear parents!

  16. I understand your feelings. When I think about the possibility of moving, I think I just couldn’t leave my plants. I have to stay and watch them grow and develop. And so many of them have matured beautifully over the years. And I totally get why you’re tidying up for the new owners. That is such a nice gesture. I’m sure you’ll love developing gardens in your new home.

    • Thank you, Claudia – it’s been a difficult decision for sure but I’m actually pretty excited to have more room to plant the bigger plants now (instead of always having to find the dwarf versions to fit in my smaller garden beds) It was either move or start gardening on the roof of my home. 🙂

  17. How considerate of you to think of the new owners and those boys will be so excited to discover the treasures you hid. I fell for our new place immediately because the owners were so warm and cared for their home…i felt the good fibes before we went in. They were just as considerate and we here doing well on their new adventures. like you they moved on after their daughter left for school…wishing you many great adventures ahead!

    • We felt the good vibes, too, and even though we haven’t met the sellers of our new home our realtor says they’re amazing. We meet them next week to show us around and I can’t wait. I think it makes all the difference in whether a home has been lovingly tended or not. Thanks for the well wishes, too!

  18. As I was saying a final goodbye to my beloved gardens last month, I was thinking of you, my friend. I knew you would be doing the same thing as I, primping and pruning every leaf, every plant and telling them how happy they have made me over the years. As a few neighbors walked by, they asked why I was bothering since I was leaving the next day… I told them it was the least I could do since my gardens had given me so much joy over the years. I left with a smile on my face. You will, too.
    BTW, I love that you and Emily left treasures to be discovered by the little boys, I can imagine the squeals of delight!!!

    • You and I are on the same page, Sheila, and I bet the new owners of your home are thrilled with what you’ve left for them. I can’t wait to hear about your new place, how it is living somewhere so vastly different than Denver, living near your family, your new garden. Thanks for your support. xoxo

  19. You came into my just a few days ago and I wondered if you had moved yet. Thank you for sharing some of your special plants and memories – they are what make a garden special. I have been in my new location 10 years in August and seeing the few plants I brought with me from Portland OR to NE Alabama still brings joy to my heart every time I look at them. I mourn a few that I didn’t think to get starts of before I moved, so I’m glad you gave yourself so much time to take care of business with the garden.

    • That’s so nice to hear, Barbara – I look forward to seeing my ‘memory plants’ in years ahead and pray I can keep them alive during the heat of summer before I can plant them again!

  20. What a wonderful way to remember your garden. I know that your new garden will be as fabulous as you can imagine it to be! Always best of luck and much love to you and Tom.

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