It captured my heart the moment, three years ago that I first laid eyes on it. An expansive set of gardens positioned in an idyllic spot along the river Grand. Situated at the end of a small lane, close to the bustling artisans who call this slice of bliss home, you can easily lose yourself in its reclusiveness.
Sixteen years of various stewardship has resulted in an abundance of plant material that helped to ensure it captivated its audience from the moment the first Primula bloomed, right through to the first of the killing frosts. I was privileged to stewardship for the past three, but sadly the time has come to say goodbye.
Wabi sabi represents a Japanese world view centred on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. It can be further broken down to the belief that there is indeed beauty in decay. What better instrument to use as a visual representation of this belief than the Garden.
For me, this past week has become a lesson in letting go. I, as a gardener, whose pessimism sometimes clouds my vision, have always been drawn to one of life’s great inevitabilities – that of letting go. I have been privileged to listen to other gardening friends, as they discussed the painful process of leaving a garden behind – albeit to downsize to something more manageable, or to walk away from gardening entirely. Thankfully for me, I am not remotely close to walking away from gardening in its entirely – rather, I am going to focus my attention on an annoying health issue that has been plaguing me of late – a weakened lower back and the possibility of sciatica. In this profession, your back is your bestest friend in the world – lose any part of it, and you’re in trouble.
I have also been ‘encouraged’ to, ‘pull yourself out of the garden and utilize your knowledge to assist people with design.’ Under the canopy of the nursery we [the bosses and I] have created and installed a new border, and I am currently under contract to assist with the design and install of a second one next Spring. Exciting! Beyond my wildest imagining! I can steer people in the right direction, and if they choose, can also get my hands dirty alongside them as it is installed. I do not want to be the all inclusive, design, plant and walk away type – but rather I want to gently coax new gardeners over to what I call the ‘green’ side of their personalities, involving them every step of the way in creating the garden of their dreams. Lofty? Only time will tell.
The towering Aconitum are always last to bloom in this garden, and I am always loathe to cut them down until the last possible moment. With the back the way it is, I have two co-workers to do the actual physical chores necessary to put the garden to bed. I tend to leave as many of the herbaceous perennials standing as is possible. I hate to see a flattened, barren border for month’s on end, which can sometimes happen when the snow remains elusive. It fills me with an unending sadness.
The Miscanthus grasses are reveling in their glory – their shimmering seed heads gently vibrating with the morning breeze. I have left strict instructions to leave them be….. I will be doing a drive by in November to make sure they have listened. Saying goodbye and letting go and two vastly different things – and lucky for me, I have been issued an ultimatum that I stop by whenever the whim should strike.
I have enjoyed this past three years: The gardener’s year round caretaker [owner] has been a delight to work for. Our lunchtime conversations have run the gamut from politics, the arts, to who will win the Governor General for fiction! And of course we discuss the garden – always with thoughtful respect for its continuing success. To a stranger I am sure it appear as if we were talking about people, and not just plants! But that’s the glory of it all…. finding someone who views plants as more that being…. well, just plants! You’re either gifted or you’re damned. Quite often a combination of both. We [and here I mean D, the Garden and I] have hosted two garden tours, the second of which was this past Summer, and was the perfect denouement – being able to share it with fellow gardeners is indeed what gardening is all about is it not?
Kind thanks D for offering me this opportunity. To the residents of the garden, gentle thanks and a peaceful winter’s slumber. I shall come to check up on you when the anxieties of separation have lifted.