Sunday, March 25, 2012

A Garden is Personal

N and I recently got new neighbors.  The house next door to ours has been empty for several years while our elderly neighbor's son debated about if and when to sell it.  His mother had lived there for several decades - it was the house he grew up in - and cleaning it out was difficult for him.

Since the new neighbors moved in they've been doing a lot of work, inside and out.  On the outside they've hacked down innumerable bushes that Ms V planted over the years that have lately gotten completely out of control, and planted almost as many decorative trees.  They tore everything out of her big flower bed, which was overrun with nasty vines and grasses, dug up all the dirt, and put down a layer of wood chips.

It's really impressive how much they've done, and I think it will look much better when it's finished than it did in recent years.  But I can't help but think about how much pride and pleasure Ms V probably took in each one of those plants when she put them in.  Did she enjoy them as much as I enjoy the peony that's - surprise! - decided to come back this year even after N knocked it down with the string trimmer last summer?

Or the stargazer lilies I planted the spring before R was born?

But that's the thing: the stargazer lilies are special to me, personally, because they remind me of my honeymoon, and now that they've been growing in my yard, they remind me of the summer we remodeled the kitchen and how we had to leave the house open and the heat was terrible, but the room was full of the scent of the blooming lilies....  And they won't remind future occupants of any of those things.  A garden is personal, and this new young family will bring and make their own plant associations, and that's how it should be.

Ms V had the dogwood tree in her flower bed chopped down a few months before she moved out.  It was big and beautiful, and she had bragged to me once that she brought that little tree home from a friend's house in a paper cup years ago.  I couldn't understand why she had it chopped down when it obviously meant something to her.  But watching the new owner wildly thunk a pickaxe into the ground where it used to stand ("I'm like a kid in here" he admitted sheepishly when he saw he'd been caught), I'm kinda glad it's gone.

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