When we moved to this house almost 24 years ago it was a blank slate even though my in-laws had lived here since 1966. They'd both worked full time their entire lives and so things had been cared for meticulously but no one had dug up the yard in all that time except for a small plot with my father-in-law's roses. I immediately set about replacing grass with gardens in the front and back yards. When my son was small we spent hours reading Beatrix Potter stories and I planted a Peter Rabbit garden with plants from the stories, lettuces and blackberries and camomile. In the front yard I created a walkway and planted azaleas and a lovely cottage garden. Over the years however the Japanese maple I planted along with a very productive Bartlett pear grew to such heights that a shade garden evolved over time. Now the entrance is inviting and cool.
A few years later life got insanely busy and I let the garden go back to lawn while I shuffled people hither thither and yon. It was exhausting. There was too much business and socializing for a garden loving introvert. I missed the quiet surprises of a garden. Slumbering toads that come to life when you are weeding and dragonflies. I missed herbs. I wanted flowers and birds. In the summer of 2008 I reclaimed what I had let go. I treated reclaiming the garden and digging up a larger part of the lawn as a full time job. I would head out in the morning and turn over earth with a shovel until lunch, wash, eat, drink a ton of water and head back out. It took me a couple of months but there is something rejuvenating about soil. I also had my heart set on chickens. Bees would follow.
Whoever said that a gardener spends eighty percent of his time leaning on a shovel imagining what the garden will look like was right. Since I created this second version of a garden some years have gone better than others. I mark the successes and failures. I take note of what really delights me. Fruits. Chickens. Bees. Herbs. I don't grow a ton of vegetables, just a few here and there. Vegetables excite me less in the garden than other things.
I am undone however by a brambly blackberry patch or thyme. There isn't any explaining this.
Last year was busier than I would have liked but this year things are quite settled and the small enchanting space out back that includes the potting shed and honey house is where you can find me most of the time. To read about what that means for the inside of the house right now you can read The Dirty Truth About Spring at Our House.