I started this blog a few weeks ago, and started making changes to my garden a few weeks before that, in the dark and dead of winter that now, as I write this, seems almost endless. In January, looking out my back windows just made me more melancholic. Working in the yard in February just made me feel hopeless, a feeling of futile effort being thrown after anger and regret. The fallen leaves of a dozen Bigleaf Maples. A winter’s detritus of branches and sticks. Drainage problems and unceasing rain. Five times the space that I had grown used to, and a different kind of gardening altogether, one that came with dozens of don’ts and a dearth of dos. My task lists begat dozens of further task lists.
My last garden was sunny, colorful, and inviting in all seasons. It was well-designed, fairly problem-free, and unique: parts of it looked like other gardens but none of it looked like any other particular garden. It also took eleven years to make, had a lawn that needed all the ‘love’ that lawns need, it had English ivy growing under one section of fence, bindweed coming underneath another, and horsetail coming in from a third. It had just come to the mature stage that would have required much more pruning and care to keep it in check, eventual removal, replacement, and renovation of plant material that had outgrown their plant relationships (heart ya, scalene triangles!), and I think my black bamboo might have escaped its underground barriers. I miss the garden fondly, but not as much as you’d think (though I wish I still had the Shoji house that I designed and built).
Yesterday I could see where I am ‘going’ for the first time. The drainage is nearly managed, most of the plant material moved and placed (for this season, anyway). I don’t have a lawn, so no mower, no weekly chore to fit our family’s schedule around. I want moss, and lots of it. Native perennials self-sow, and a plant that spreads itself is desirable in this garden. Rhododendron getting leggy and tree-like? Perfect.
There won’t be as many of the chores and upkeep in this garden, watering, mulching and the like. I don’t think you can Niwaki a vine maple. All my wabi sabi is built right in. Sure, as long as the Acer Macrophyllum are there, I’ll be collecting leaves and branches, and hopefully shredding and chipping them; but this is a garden to be edited, managed. Not groomed. Maybe it is because the sun was out for a minute, but I looked down from my upper window, and liked what I saw. I could see the next thing, and the one after that. And then it started to snow. Nice.