Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The Garden Jones

I love owning my own home - even with all of the issues of fixing this and replacing that and plumbers and contractors and electricians (ok, headache now) - but it's this time of year, for the last two years that my heart breaks and yearns for my old house. It was a 3 flat that my former in-laws owned. Even after my divorce from Ex, I lived there (for a disguting pittance of a rent, really nice). The yard and garden were MINE. I had total control. When I was going through my phase of really hating my marriage and pondering the divorce, I relandscaped the entire garden - nothing fancy schmancy, but I did it and it was beautiful. I had a grand design in mind that would require years of care and patience and love, but it was MINE. I started under the lilac bushes (grown into trees) with, what I lovingly deemed Daffodil Hill. A friend of mine owned a gardening business and so I ordered all of my bulbs through her. I loaded this mound of dirt with several varieties of daffs, knowing that they would be fruitful and multiply over the years. I wonder what it looks like now.... I can just imagine...I don't remember all the names, but yellow on yellow daffs, white with pink daffs, white on white with frilly fringe daffs..never particularly fond of orange on yellow, but that was just me...OH I'm jonesin'!

To the right of Daffodil Hill, I had a rose arbor on which I was growing clematis. I know I thought about starting a climbing rose on the other side, but I don't recall getting around to it. ANYWAY, I had a little walkway through it along which I had teeny tiny little species tulips. If you're not familiar, they look kind of like pointy crocuses. Itty bitty little tulips. The images in the picture above are mayyyyyyybe 6 in. high. Most of the ones I had were this color, but I had some that were a fuschia with a purple stripe (where the red is in this picture). They were so dainty and petite. I had planted some in the front yard, too, around my tree, and as a border in my front garden. The downside was that with their size, they tended to get trampled - but they were really pretty while they lasted.

My pride, was my roses. I only had a few bushes and one or two climbers, but I LOVED them. They never failed me and did not require the gazillion hours of upkeep and maintenance that I hear people talk about. I fed them, but not traditional rose food...oh, sure, every once in a while I would spoil them with some miracle grow but mainly, a big ol' bulb of garlic planted at the base at the beginning of every season and then, again, about half way through the season. It kept the bugs away, it kept my roses happy. OH...and I fed them banana peels. LORD did they love banana peels...maybe that's why LargeBoy has such a distaste for them, because I made him eat so many so I could have the peels! LOL My roses made me happy, gave me a sense of calm and serenity. Taking care of them, watching new buds spring up, pruning them....I loved them so!

TULIPS!!!! Wherever I could place them I planted. I have a special place in my heart for tulips. They ARE spring. They are new life. They are sunshine. They are happiness (good grief, I'm starting to sound like a cheezy 70's song). I could never have enough tulips and I never really got to the ones I wanted. I had, in the front of my house, 30 or so tall pure white tulips with the pretty fringe edges - not the parrot kind, nothing gaudy , either, but a pretty fringe. I had planted these on - get this - New Year's Day (keep in mind I live in Chicago). They were phenomenal. It was a beautiful little pond of white and green. Someone on my block had taken a picture of them and had given it to me. It now sits in a frame in my living room over my piano (a true place of honor). I had a great many tulips, but only the basic ones. My grand scheme was to build my garden with early to late blooming tulips, short to tall and sleek and, ultimately, to get some of the gorgeous, elegant, black tulips and the deep deep purple ones. Never got there, though.

I have a garden that I "developed" at my new house. I dug up the ground,killed the grass around the area, dug up the walking path. I transplanted what I could from my old place, including my rose arbor. Sadly, roses don't transplant well, so I had to leave them behind. My friend transplanted some things from her garden as she readied her house to put on the market - she brought me some GORGEOUS daylillies, some bearded irises, and a few other goodies. I've got my stepping stones in place, I've got clematis, I'm grooming a new climbing rose, planted some baby narcissus....but it's not the same. My garden cannot thrive. The soil is different because of our location (in the same neighborhood that was home to a petroleum plant many decades ago), PLUS, my spigot doesn't work. No, not a simple fix either (why would it be). When I moved into my house, it was on the coldest day of the year - I believe it was a record low. The underside of my house, above which is the kitchen, is not insulated (long story for another blog), so the pipes froze. The rest of my house recovered without doing much more than requiring a warm up, leaving the water drip overnight, etc....the pipe to the spigot wasn't as lucky. It broke. This leaves me to have to water the entire garden using the old fashioned fire line system...empty milk gallons, pails, water buckets, etc....not easy to do when you have minimal time.

I miss my old garden because of all of the hours of work and love I put into it. It was HUGE with lots of room to grow. I know that this one will, someday, show that love also, but I find myself kind of heartsick for that one. I have a hydrangea that I need to plant, I'd really like to put in some more perennials, but I have no way to water regularly....need to replant my grass too...HAH! Can't run a sprinkler! I pray that some of you out there have some suggestions??????????


SquareGirl said...

There is something about houses that seem to hold memories. I drove by the house me and my four siblings grew up in, but was sold when we all moved out (it was a HUGE Victorian House, good for a family of seven, but not convenient for just my parents) and felt a surge of sadness that I never expected. I have a beautiful apartment with lots of thriving plants, but look so forward to having my own garden in my own house...problems and all. I can't give you any gardening advice, but it sounds like you have a wonderful gift for gardening and nurturing beauty!

Moi ;) said...

I am just getting into the gardening thing, since we bought our house I have HAD to. It came with 12 flower beds!!!!! Of course, I can't handle quite that many. I let three grow over, and one really was a stupid one.

Just trying to figure out what is IN the gardens has been a chore. I've tossed a lot of stuff. And the guy who planted before me stuck really stupid things in stupid places - 3 azalea bushes on one side of the walk, 3 ferns on the other. Dumb.

BJ's sells great roses - I saw them today for $9.99 - last year I got several and they have grown and grown, kept blooming all summer. I am going to try that garlic - do you peel it first??

Last summer I planted a load of tulips and they are starting to come up. My irises - well, got the leaves two years in a row. Last year they didn't bloom - keep your fingers crossed for this year!

Of course, I am going away next week so you KNOW they will all bloom while I am gone. Grrr.

Moi ;) said...

OH and BTW Hydrangeas love the shade. So you don't have to worry about the water so much.

mommyguilt said...

Thanks, Moi ;). I've never peeled the garlic...and I've tried different sizes, but it doesn't seem to matter. They LOVE garlic and the critters that would like to eat your roses do NOT like garlic. If you try the banana peels, though, cut them up a bit - it's just easier to get them evenly distributed, cuz you want to put them into the soil around the base...I ended up digging up and replanting my garlic on many occasions (while putting in my bananas), but it's always been fine.

Thanks for the tips on the hydrangea...OH...gardening by trial and error is how I built my last one...I planted and saw what grew where, what I killed, how layouts looked best, etc (spent WAY too much $$$, though).

Laura said...

I LOVE lilacs. And my neighbors have some lovely raspberry bushes, which they let the kids pick from at will. It you want an off-shoot for your garden, let me know. They like to share. ;)

Pseudo Supermum said...

It makes me sad to think that I have a garden which fits our lifestyle, but gives me little pleasure. I have no time, so it's just as well that the garden is tiny. What can you do with two narrow beds at the back of the house, and one tiny one at the front? I'm toying with the idea of paying someone to come up with some ideas for a minimal-effort, maximum-bloom garden. I get flowers in spring to early summer, then nothing. It's miserable.

I went to Edinburgh University yesterday - they have this lovely railed garden with trees and lots of spring bulbs. And I'm so glad I took five minutes to walk in it, because today it's grey, gloomy, and the April showers are overwhelmingly heavy. Sleet, in fact.

Last night I dreamt that I looked outside and the three back gardens of our terrace were awash with a rainy whirlpool. Think the showers were disturbing my sleep??

Moi ;) said...

Do you cut off the clove part before you put the garlic in? Or cut it in pieces? And do you bury it? (I nkow you bury the peels, lol)

I do the same thing, just plant stuff and see how it comes out....I found that if I hit a good bulb sale (Michigan Bulb has a good one in the fall) I can do really well. I have two Rose of Sharons that have been growing in my kitchen all winter!

mommyguilt said...

Moi - put the whole darn garlic in - leave the peel on, don't separate the cloves, just pop the whole thing in, and cover it up. It's really kind of fun when the garlic starts sprouting through the ground.

Pseudosupermum - send me some pics of your garden (and what temperate zone you're in). Maybe I can make some suggestions! Grab my email off of my profile. I'd be very happy to help if I can.

Astryngia said...

Oh gosh - that is just sooo special.

When I was going through my phase of really hating my marriage and pondering the divorce, I relandscaped the entire garden - nothing fancy schmancy, but I did it and it was beautiful. I had a grand design in mind that would require years of care and patience and love, but it was MINE.

Have you ever thought about it as a metaphor of your life and the transition you were about to make??

I miss my old garden because of all of the hours of work and love I put into it. It was HUGE with lots of room to grow. I know that this one will, someday, show that love also, but I find myself kind of heartsick for that one.

Having put to much into the past, all the hopes and dreams...all that could have been...

Makes me want to give you a great big gentle hug to acknowledge the investment you made in your past, the pain of leaving and the tender new shoots just starting to grow.

Astryngia said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Astryngia said...

Sorry - posted twice!!

mommyguilt said...

WOW - that's deep....I never thought of it that way, but as I read your comments it does seem to make perfect sense. Fabulous translation, Astryngia! Again, WOW!!!! Oh, and thanks for the hug! Right back at'cha

Astryngia said...

It gave me goosebumps when I read it - I'm so glad my comment resonated for you