Friday, January 2, 2009

Good Grief - Leaving a garden can be painful

Two child-sized Adirondack chairs rest among the golden leaves.

Tell the truth.

Have you ever "haunted" a former house or garden? Do you drive by to check out the height of the sycamore tree you planted? Do you wonder if the new owners are feeding the azaleas?

Read about how some have coped with "gardening grief" in my latest story in the Home & Garden section of the LA Times.

Letting go and moving on, whether it's associated with a garden or an illness, are never easy.

Even in winter the garden is full of life: lemons ready for squeezing, flowering maple in full bloom, an old chandelier converted to a garden fixture and miniature strawberries scattered across the path.

A moss-covered Buddha presides over the shade garden.

I know that one day - in a year perhaps - we'll sell this house. I'm already grieving over the garden.


altadenahiker said...


susiegb said...

Oh yes! I have done this (and still do occasionally!) A few years ago I was back in London, and as I had a car I did a drive-by of the first garden I (and my then partner) ever had. It was a back garden, and I parked on a side street where you could look across and see it!

I remember that, as we were both planning to move to Australia when we were there, we planted an Australian Blue Gum (Eucalyptus) in the back of the garden. That was such a mistake! 10 years later and it was HUGE!!

Great article ... made me smile and remember!

Susan C said...

Thanks, AH.

Susie, thanks for sharing your stories. I can just picture you admiring your garden from the side street.

Funny that you chose to plant an Australian tree. Who knew it would grow so rapidly.

Margaret said...

Good Grief! I missed this Friday! In fact, I missed Friday's paper entirely as I was getting ready for some old friends to visit. I'm so glad you posted the link on your blog so that I could read it. The article turned out great. When we moved into our house the garden was a mess, but part of it was covered with this old, very big, very heavy rocks. There were all kinds of rocks -- but you could tell that none of them originated here. When we did some landscaping work we donate some to our old preschool because they were so unusual and interesting. But now I feel kind of bad. Some previous owner must have carted those rocks half way across the continent just to put them in our home. I bet he or she would feel sad to know that they are gone.

Susan C said...

Margaret, actually, the Home & Garden section has switched from Thursday to Saturday. New owners can never be expected to treasure things in the same way we do.

The former owners of our house kept in touch for several years after we purchased the house. I would always show them around, pointing out the upgrades we made to the house and landscaping.

She had left for me a plastic Christmas garland that graced the staircase for decades. Her "drop-in" visits were always at Christmas, and I'm sure she was disappointed that I hadn't carried on the tradition of the plastic garland. I go for the real thing.

Nelle said...

I drive by two former homes that I owned. Both had two acre properties that were lovingly tended for years. When I moved from the first property to the second, I took so many things, which didn't do well long term. When I moved here I was working full time and didn't move one thing. The people dug up a beautiful garden of lillies I had on the side and put a play area there for their young child. I couldn't get over that! I am trying now to focus on this yard which is tiny. Your yard is magnificent!

altadenahiker said...

Are you really thinking of leaving? The house seems so -- you.

Susan C said...

AH, no urgency to sell the house, just the realization that I won't be here the rest of my life, as I once thought. It could happen in a year, it could be five. Lots of uncertainty.

My fantasy is a light-filled condo with a view in SF.

Susan C said...

Nelle, that breaks my heart about the dug up lillies.

Paula L. Johnson said...

Whenever you do sell the house, let's make plans for a house-cooling party.

It's like a house-warming party, except you give your guests things they've been eyeing that you will no longer need.

It's my concept, so I make the rules.

Piper Robert said...

A house-cooling party. Brilliant!

I'm making a list.

Susan C said...

Uh oh. Does this mean my friends are going to be eying my stuff in anticipation of the house cooling party?