A Mighty Thank You: The Garden is Change

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None of these views of the garden exists any more. I’m just sharing photos of it from over the years since I’ve realized many gardens don’t have as many scene changes as this one has had. I’ve come to enjoy that quite a bit recently. I don’t even recognized these photos as the same place in a way. The garden is change. My garden has transformed many times.

I’ve lived in my home since 2006 and have spent a lot of time messing things up and rearranging everything again and again. I’ve screwed a lot up, I’ve killed a lot of plants, I’ve changed, I’ve grown, and my soft-opening Summer of 2022 HPSO Open Garden is upon me and I’m not completely ready for showtime.

The cat on the bench is Maurice. The garden is named after him.

Isn’t that the story of our lives? And while I like to keep my days in order, with a rather predictable routine, to be honest, I’ve come to better understand that I’m much more in flux and in movement, and performing—always.

Yet I’ve thought of myself as otherwise for so long.

I think of myself like this, kind of a lump, because I was traumatized at 30 by a primary immune disease diagnosis and I lacked the emotional support I needed for the first few years. That just snowballed into painful isolation. Many of you can relate now that you’ve been through the pandemic. I was living that kind of isolation long before COVID-19.

While the world continued to live around me, I just learned about plants while trying to ignore my difficult symptoms and the lack of available treatments. I had to wait and observe both the garden and myself.

I’m grateful that during both experiences I had a garden, but it feels to me like they were very different places. It as dark here during the first period of isolation, but during the pandemic, the second isolation, immense growth took place.

Preparing for an earlier Open Garden date this year was intentionally planned in order to get this place in order so that I could enjoy it even more this summer. While I’m not 100% happy with how it looks, I’m well on my way to being more organized, and I had a ton of fun working with friends to prepare.

After this, my next Open Garden is in a month so I intend to keep playing out there with friends for the next few weeks. It is beyond wonderful to have some help.

I’ve thought about the many lessons I’ve learned, and I’m less interested than ever in reviewing painful memories I’ve had here. I think mostly now of the love, the kindness, and the happiness of being with others. I look forward to having folks over for dinner and for the laugher and maybe even the unexpected tears to come. Life is always a series of challenges and we must take the good along with the bad.

And that mighty thank you I mentioned?

I feel filled to the brim nowadays with a genuine gratitude I’ve been savoring. I have it for life in general, for the little Annie inside of myself (since she so happily lived so that I could be the centered me of today), and for the friends and colleagues I have who bring meaning into my days.

Thank you for being you too.

Joy, curiosity, strength, and healing simply couldn’t be the same without all of you. We’re all in this together.

The Stress and Anxiety of an Open Garden

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I’ve been gardening for two decades now and yet I’m not known to have much of a show garden. It’s been a bit of a joke for me really, since I’ve been experimenting with so many things for so long, but I’ve had a plan. I just have not had a lot of money to do much, or the energy to do it myself.

Back in the olden days when I was training the willow arbor. This photo shows why the garden is named Campiello Maurizio after Maurice, the chunky kitty in the foreground. The kitties have always loved the back garden.

So instead, I tinkered. I grew random plants in pots, and for over a decade I sold their seeds on Etsy. Plants were here and there and I was a seed grower. I collected seeds in others’ gardens, I cleaned them, and I offered them for sale and grew them here too. It was chaos, a mess really, but I learned a lot and grew a reputation as a seedsperson. I sold over 5,000 packets of seeds and/or glassine envelopes. It was a lot!

As my health has improved and become more manageable, I’ve worked to tame the place, and to edit it and make sense of it. But I miss growing seeds. I miss working at home. I keep trying to grow seeds again. I just don’t have the energy now. To be good at it you really need to have a keen eye for detail and I just am too tired and worn down after working all week. But like I said, I keep trying. This year is no different and seeds will be sown again.

The same benches as above. They’re all gone now, and Mona was the last cat in the photo above to pass away. We lost her last fall.

Only a few friends know what this garden home has looked like over the years. I never planned big, I only had things that made me happy for a spell, small dumb things that I could afford at the time. The amount of energy it can take to plan a garden project is often taken for granted. Editing is easier now since I basically just want to sit in a hammock, but I do have quite the collection of plants, and visitors will not be disappointed by them at all.

The South Garden before the Doug fir with 7 heads was removed.

With aching fingers now I can only write so much about all of this, but it’s worth the anxiety to open your garden once you get it in order. It by no means should be perfect either, it’s an unfinished story that visitors can begin, and return to next year if they wish, and maybe again later.

Like life, gardens are never the same. Change is a challenge, but change can be beautiful. I love this about gardens and gardening.

Sadly, yes, it can feel competitive, and you can feel like less than some other gardener, but what matters is your joy, the pleasure you feel from your own efforts, and the happiness you can share with others. We need one another and we need to feel and share joy.

The South Garden several years after the Doug fir with 7 heads was removed.

Most of my adult life has been spent hiding in my garden, dealing with health issues, and the more time I spend away from it, I realize how many challenges folks deal with daily and I see the privilege I have as the city grows around me and as homes get smaller, and so many have no gardens at all. Land is becoming more and more expensive.

So I choose to share my happiness and my fun collection of plants.

The front garden maybe 10 years ago.

It is a panicked time now working so hard at both nurseries, dealing with the usual stresses of the workplace, customers and coworkers all bringing their own stuff to the table, dealing with my own insane chronic pain, and having and an extreme need to find balance in my own self after having lived a life wildly beyond my control.

As I pull it all together, the garden is coming along too and I love it. I’m stinking exhausted, but I’m happy.

The front garden a few weeks ago after hiring the help of two coworkers. It’s amazing how far you can go when you have some help.

So please, open your garden, make new friends, share plants, smile, laugh, and enjoy the time you have here in this life to share with others.

Professionalism, Respect, Kindness: Life is short