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Planting Joy, Growing Hope

Updated: Jun 29

I love my mornings in the garden. I get out of the hot tub following my meditation, having contemplated my garden from the warm water, and I walk through the space, greeting each plant by name. I look to see what is new, and what they might need of me that day. It is a quiet, joy-filled practice. I am grateful.

I’ve got perennial flowers and veggies, all strewn helter-skelter around the backyard. It is a calming place, one that attracts a menagerie: birds of all kinds; red, black, and brown squirrels; wee chipmunks; and a few rabbits. Maybe a skunk or two; certainly, a family of racoons. It’s a happening place.

It wasn’t always like this though…

My backyard once contained a round saucer in the square space, the imprint of a 24-foot round above ground pool that had collapsed one winter. The exposed ground – beach sand on top of 2 inches of crushed gravel on top of deep reddish soil on top of clay – was inhospitable to any life. It took a few years for weeds to transplant themselves in the wasteland that was the space.

All the top soil had been pushed to the back of the property, against a falling down, greyed by weather wood fence and four enormous pine trees that lined the back property line. With time, that soil became laden with anthills, and so full of the fine roots of the pine trees that putting a shovel in the ground was like digging into concrete – impossible.

One day, my mom, a Master gardener, was splitting plants at her place and offered me a few hosta, and sedum. Over my resistance, she pushed, “Look, just dig a hole in the ground, add some good soil, moisten it all, just stick these plants in. See how that works.” And so, without much hope, I did. A sedum here, a hosta there, some brown-eyed Susans and some irises began to settle in. Pine mulch spread across the soil between the plants kept the weeds down. In a year and a half, mulch became soil.

And bit by bit, a garden grew.

Over time, I added more plants – hydrangea, cone flower, shasta daisies and more – and with round river rock, created some rock paths at the garden’s edge. After mom died, dad gave me some of her lawn art – a cast-iron owl, a ceramic dragon, a cast-iron snail, two copper sprinklers – which give my grandchildren something to find when they visit.

The space is chaotic, but a wild order has settled over my yard these past two decades that I’ve lived here. I love it.

Nothing builds hope, and creates joy, like planting a garden.

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This post and the photo of your garden engender serenity, Trudy. I especially love the line "A sedum here, a hosta there, some brown-eyed Susans and some irises began to settle in." It's the "began to settle in" bit that really resonates with me. 😊

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Thank you Jen! Such good feedback.

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