June 1, 2016
It’s that time of year when flowers abound—especially at the Ashbury’s. You may recall that after several years of pleading for some blooms, my beloved, our daughter and our son finally got the message, so that I now have gardens once more. I can’t tell you how much this means to me. Of all the things I can no longer manage to do, gardening is the thing I miss the most. Something as simple as no longer being able to get down on the ground and back up again without help has had a tremendous impact on my life. And while I still do a lot around the house, that whole up and down thing you do when you garden isn’t one of them.
I wanted perennials, because this property as a whole is a challenge. If you stand at the very back of our lot, you are actually on the same level as the top of our roof. That “hill” takes up the lion share of our land. That part of our property has been inaccessible to me for ten years, and just lately, has become that way to my husband as well. The best we can do there is have our youngest grandson cut the grass, keeping it neat.
Our tiny front yard is very uneven for walking on, and not very wide from the edge of our front porch to the sidewalk. However, we have spring bulbs planted along the walkway and in front of the porch. We also have a couple of peonies, two lilacs that are very slow growing, and a smattering of lilies-of-the-valley. This year along with the hanging baskets our kids gave me on Mother’s Day, we have not three, but five oblong flower boxes hanging in two tiers off the porch itself. These are filled with pansies. We’ve put a few annuals along the walkway, and once the tulips and narcissi die out, we’ll put some asters there as well. And that rose bush my husband gave me three years ago is still alive, and currently in bud, outside my bedroom window.
But there is one area of our property that we can work with, and that we really have improved upon from a few years ago, and that is our small, fenced-in and relatively flat back yard. My beloved admits that small area is really the most he can manage on his own anymore. He cuts the grass—the lawn is an area not even ten square feet. He’s planted various annuals that we picked up on the Victoria Day Weekend in an ell-shaped garden along two sides of the yard. That same weekend he also planted some perennials: two trilliums that I searched and searched to find, and about 8 gladiola bulbs. He resurrected our gazebo, and put the table and chairs out beneath it.
He’s even wired the gazebo for electricity so we could have a light at night, and so that, if the day is not too hot, I can take my laptop out and write in the fresh air amid nature’s beauty. We also have a barbecue in this small back yard, perfect for those “family dinners” our second daughter loves so well.
I think back to the days when we were starting out, when we lived in the house that had been my mother’s, out in a rural area. We had tree-quarters of an acre, with a couple of dozen trees, big flower beds in the front, and a veggie garden big enough that the neighboring farmer came in the spring with his tractor to plow and then disc it for us.
I miss that place, sentimentally. I miss the umbrella-like canopy of the weeping willow, the sound of the breeze rustling the poplar leaves, and the sight of my laundry stretched out on the clothes lines secured on the poles driven into the very flat land. I miss going out to that veggie garden and plucking a luscious tomato to make a sandwich for lunch, or harvesting fresh beans for supper.
I miss the perennials—daffodils, narcissi, and tulips, the lilacs and the lilies-of-the-valley that grew in such rich abundance that when the breeze came from the north in the spring you could step out onto the verandah and inhale that marvelous bouquet. I miss the tiger lilies and the smoke bush that my mother planted, and the flowering crabs we’d bought her one long ago Mother’s Day.
I miss all that keenly—but it wouldn’t be the same, even if we could go back to that place, because we’re not the same.
So in reality, what we have now is better than those memories. Because what we have now is real, it’s here, and it’s what we can manage.