Returning Home to My Garden

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The living willow arbor was pruned in March.

Blogging feels foreign to me as I type this post. Life has continued to keep me busy but I have no complaints. Not long after the garden show in Seattle I started to work part-time as a plantswoman for a landscaper friend so between part-time caregiving, running an Etsy shop, doing garden design work, and procuring plants, I’ve not really felt coherent enough to write much of anything.

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Business as usual—albeit a bit behind this year. I should have planted many of these seeds in the fall.

The pace of my life is different than it has been for the last 20 years and I’m still adjusting incrementally. Everything takes time with me. I’m savoring that now. Only in the last few weeks has my life started to feel orchestrated and artful again.

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The Asparagus ferns returned to the garden a few weeks ago after their winter sojourn. (From l to r: Asparagus densiflorus ‘Myers’ and Asparagus densiflorus ‘Sprengeri’.)

Chronic illness hampers personal growth when your health is not yet managed by the correct treatments and interventions. So, instead of writing, I’ve been spending a lot of time quietly soothing things internally and taking more direct action in my daily life. The balance has finally tipped from fervent fear and animal-like scampering to and from a secret hiding space to just simply waking up, taking my day in as it goes, running errands, and getting plenty of rest. Much of the anxiety that’s been naturally caused by my autoimmune issues and poor health has virtually vanished—and I don’t miss it.

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Spring growth on Himalayan Maidenhair ferns. (Adiantum venustum).

Learning to live externally again has been unnerving but after a couple of years of this, I’m feeling confident and less raw. I’m more aware of the PTSD I’m still recovering from caused by years of chronic illness and pain. I first experienced PTSD as a teen after a violent assault. Unfortunately, that period of my life folded over into the last one and this only served to overwhelm me more but all of the fighting is over now and the crushing weight of these life experiences has gone away. I fought hard to get back to the person I thought I was supposed to be and I’m smug with contentedness knowing that I was here waiting.

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Trillium kurabayashii with Dicentra formosa at the delightful native plant nursery Bosky Dell Natives.

It was fussing with my garden and plants that kept the anxiety, depression, and emotional pain at bay. Unlike other garden bloggers, my gardening was more of a circular activity with no clear end in mind. (This is why there are no posts on other garden blogs about my garden. There’s really not much to see and what you do see is all unfinished.) Most of my gardening was taking place internally. That’s really all I could do and I was happy doing it. After all, I was technically disabled and I’m not ashamed of that fact. I did the best that I could do.

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Stunning Hosta ‘Designer Genes’ plants from Sebright Gardens.

For many years, all I could do was crawl around because my legs were so swollen I couldn’t stand up so clearly I wasn’t rehab-ing and making a garden paradise. I was incessantly re-weeding and never getting far. Internally, my mind was marching on and ordering more and more seeds. At least it was in that realm I got somewhere and I’m still going to work with seeds a great deal as I move forward now.

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Quincy Mercurio Carbone out on the back roof. Our little man is only 7 months old now but he’s quite large due to his being half Maine Coon.

This adjustment period has been troubling and uncomfortable but working so much has filled me both with personal satisfaction and a kind of pride too often denied to those who are disabled or handicapped. It feels wonderful to be able to take care of myself and not feel like a burden to others. It also gives me the space to step back and look at the people I’ve surrounded myself with both in real life and online. I’m actively able to establish better friendships now with those who’ve been able to give of themselves. I’m filled with gratitude and thankfulness for the few who really stepped up. I owe them so much and it’s my turn to give back.

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Our 3 black cats enjoying their first fresh catnip of the season. (From l to right: Quincy, Mona, and Maurice.)

My relationship with the garden has had to change and adjust because I’m not the woman I was just a year ago. When I stepped away from blogging, I had to reexamine that too.

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My husband’s new FIAT. Nothing brings back memories of your childhood in Italy quite like one of these.

The blog will go on and I hope to be posting regularly from now on. Sure, I’ll probably continue to be more personal than your average garden blogger, and if you don’t like it, move on. I’m convinced that gardens are made by their people and that their people and their stories matter. This is what my blog has always been about, but sadly, I didn’t get out enough to engage in other POVs. I’m convinced now it’s time to reengage with some more challenging and varied content.

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Greek-style frieze seen at a local concrete garden decor supply business.

In addition to regular Monday posts, I’ll also chose to publish one more day a week but it will alternate.

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The garden’s first water feature.

There are many late posts to cover, with topics I’ve wanted to wrap up for several years, but much newness is occurring around the house, so I’ll try to keep it “fresh” as they say.

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A gift from one gardener to another. There’s nothing better than a weekend brunch with friends, especially when they bring you fresh flowers from their garden.

Ok, my fingers are warmed up now. This is feeling comfortable again. It’s just like riding a bike, right?

Ok, hope to see you again soon!

Now where’s that PUBLISH button…?

4 thoughts on “Returning Home to My Garden

  1. Laurin Lindsey

    Ann, what a beautiful post. I remember first meeting you at Joy Creek nursery before you drove off to help organize something : ) It wasn’t a long chat but it is one of my treasured memories from the fling. I have been fighting an autoimmune issue for 5 years and I so connect with your journey. In the middle of that my youngest sister died of cancer, and my ability to heal was very slow. The Portland fling was my first outing in years. Meeting you and other people with wonderful souls and a shared passion of gardening was a big turning point. I have keep up with you via FB but being able sit here and see the beautiful pictures of your garden and hear your progress brings it back full circle. I don’t have a destination garden either. I have what I call a crow or should it be crone garden as I will be 60 in a few weeks : ) I see a plant I like and I try to find a place where it will be happy and thrive. Oh and seeds…I buy seed of thing that shouldn’t even grow here! I like seeds because they have so much potential. I am so happy things are beginning to settle in for you and you are so generous to share you journey. HUGS

    Liked by 1 person

  2. grwhryrpltd

    I am so glad you are here. You have a wonderful point of view and I look forward to seeing life through your eyes and in your words, here on the blog, and hopefully at the next garden blogger fling too…?! Now, if only I could give myself the time to wipe the dust off my own neglected blog, I could find the publish button every once in a while too.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love most of all a blog that dares to venture into the personal. I dabble in personal story in mine and then delete half or more of what I write because I get anxious about it. I love you for being bold enough to share personal as well as plant thoughts.

    Liked by 1 person

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