November 22, 2010

The Garden

There is peace within a garden, a peace so deep and calm,

That when the heart is troubled, it’s like a soothing balm.

There is life within a garden, a life that still goes on.

Filling empty places, when older plants have gone.

There is glory in the garden, at every time of year.

Spring, summer, autumn, winter, to fill the heart with cheer.

So ever tend your garden, it’s beauty to increase.

For in it you’ll find solace, and in it you’ll find peace.

Rosamon, Lady Langham

When we moved into this house, about 4 years ago, the front yard garden was nonexistent. There was a dying tree with a sad looking mum planted

on either side. That was just about it! So, we knew what we had to do...plant a garden. My mom pulled out a number of gardening books for me to consult and suggested I take note of trees and flowers that are growing healthily in our neighbourhood. For if there is one thing my mom loved as much as reading was gardening. If you ever had the pleasure of visiting one of her gardens, you know what I mean. She planted gardens with a TON of plants in them! She perfected the fine art of having a garden that bloomed through all seasons. I strive for that now.

My mother has a small bookcase dedicated to gardening books. Some she kept for their majestic photographs and others for the advice they hold. A few of the books I consulted were "Practical Gardening" by Peter McHoy, "The All Season Gardener" and "A Greener Thumb" both by Mark Cullen. Of course I also flipped through many editions of Canadian Gardening mom’s subscription only just ran out!

Together we came up with a design, ripped up the sod (I did that), piled in new soil (I did that), planted many plants and even a new tree. Today, our garden has grown into a beautiful habitat for butterflies, birds, crickets and ladybugs. I kid you not, every single time I am in the garden at least one person stops and lets me know what a wondrous addition our garden is to their walk.

I just closed down the garden this weekend. I love this task. My mom’s advice was to always leave some plants behind for winter interest and as food for the winter hearty birds. So, I always leave my Rudbeckia, Echinacea and Japanese Anemone. She also suggested that plants like Hostas, Lillies and Iris get quite soggy and slimy by clean them up in the fall when they aren’t as gross. Hot tip alert: When cleaning up an Iris or Lily remove any leaves that simply pull out out of the ground with a tug. For the leaves that don’t pull out easily, twist these leaves together, fold them onto themselves and tie another Iris leaf around to hold them in place for the winter. Sometimes my mom would even use elastic bands instead of a leaf. Again, leaving these leaves adds “winter interest”.

When all the cleaning is done..the garden looks peaceful. Ready for it’s blanket of snow. Moving through the garden I miss my mom. While her usual job was telling me what to do...I still hear her words in my ears. Perhaps it’s the solitude of gardening. I love having my girls in the garden with me...but the time I spend in the garden alone is glorious. I move quickly through my tasks of pulling, raking, tending. I listen to the wind, feel the sun on my skin and remember the hours my mom and I spent planting this garden and watching it grow.


  1. What a great post, Jen! I just put my garden to bed too but I have to go back and tie my Iris, love the idea! I'll think of you and your Mom as I get it done! :) Have a great day!

  2. Barbara Mullally PaulyNovember 24, 2010 at 9:51 PM

    I loved your latest post. What a great idea for the lilies! My garden is done now and the lilies just look, well, tired. i pulled out loose leaves but the others are fanned out on the ground, just waiting to be bunched up and tied as you have shown I have about 1000 daffodil bulbs waiting to be replanted: our new septic bed is being installed tomorrow and I had to dig everything up (20 year's growth) or lose them. I hope the bulbs survive. Love to you and the family.