Monday, July 28, 2014

Last summer:


 This summer:

The top photo is a view from our old side yard (the North Garden) as it stretched towards the back orchard and field.  The second photo is from the back porch of our new house.  I have not taken measurements, but I believe that our new backyard might be no larger than the front flower beds of our previous home.   It is a startling and, at times, shocking change, but since it's almost August and a zillion degrees out there, I have absolutely nothing to complain about.  My gardening activity is always at a minimum in  August, whatever the size of the garden. 
The move honestly felt like a mixed blessing at first.  I was absolutely thrilled to be closer to those I hold dear, but the house and garden did not seem to be a good choice or fit for us.  Now that two thirds of a year have passed, I no longer have mixed emotions.  It's all good.  My life has changed, my garden has changed, and so my gardening has naturally changed.   These days, I have much less time to dig than I used to and my tiny, new garden perfectly suits my new agenda.  Where I used to spend lots of time moving plants around and experimenting, I now focus on a few of my very favorite things. 
Of course, I had to decide just what those might be.  The short list:  a prayer garden, antique roses, herbs, a lemon tree, a sweet bay tree, native flowers, a gardenia, and a vegetable patch.
The first thing we added was a prayer or Mary garden.  I was able to incorporate both roses and herbs and will continue to add and amend as time passes.
We have yet to decide if we want one bench or two and whether we want them to be concrete without backs or wooden with backs.  On either side of the statue we planted climbing roses, Sombreuil, and created two beds for Marie Pavie and her sister, Marie Daly.  These are all hardy, fragrant, old garden roses and amongst my favorites.  I don't mind that a neighbor's oak tree shades the statue.  If it wasn't there, I would have planted a tree in that corner myself.  The only thing that I must get used to is the occasional sound of golfers enjoying themselves beyond my garden while I'm praying or meditating.   
I've been reading about monastery gardens and culinary or kitchen gardens.  If I only had one bed in which to plant, it would have to be for herbs.  I have several basils, tarragon, parsley, purslane, a good variety of thyme, mints, lemon balm, lemon grass, three different oreganos, rosemary, and sage.  We have a bay tree, too, a gift from a loved one when she learned I was in mourning for the one I left behind.
I am excited about my little garden.  I will share many of our challenges and all of our garden in future posts.  Although I might wish to have room for a few more fruit trees, we really don't mind its diminutive size.  My husband used to mow and edge four acres every week or two all summer.  Now, he doesn't own a lawnmower.  While we miss having a pecan grove for our front yard, we don't miss maintaining it and our view is actually pretty open in front.  As for the back, it's an improvement on many counts.  I'm pretty sure that my husband would say that the best part is that it's nice, vast, and he doesn't have to maintain it himself.  The back view rather reminds me of favorite book illustrations from childhood, the ones that featured a green expanse (usually a hill), a town, and a train far off in the distance.  That's what I see when I look past my backyard -- the golf course being the green, slightly hilly expanse, homes comfortably situated around it, and the train out there far away but still within sight.  It's pleasant, it's comfortable, and so far, uncommonly  simple.  
What I wouldn't change at all, not one tiny bit, are our nephews showing up at our back door unexpectedly, my brother and his kids stopping by on their way to the grocery store, coffee with my sisters-in-law, weekend breakfasts with our children, and our granddaughter toddling through the front door as fast as her little legs can carry her.  Such precious flowers as these can be nurtured, appreciated, enjoyed -- the more, the better.  But they cannot be replaced. 
I'll be back soon.  I have a lot to show, tell, and ask!