Saying Goodbye to My Garden

woman picking tomatoes in garden

Every fall, I spend a few full days in what I call “garden deconstruction” mode. I rip out the dead and dying plants, clean and store the tools, and organize buckets, trellises and fences. I mindfully put the garden to sleep and focus on setting a low-maintenance foundation for the following spring. I make mental notes about changes and additions: a few less kale plants, two plantings of basil, definitely repeat the red zinnias paired with the yellow rudbeckia.

This year, as I find myself taking those notes for next year I catch myself… There won’t be a next year for me in this garden.

Our house went up for sale two months ago—“a gardener’s paradise,” I wrote in the listing. And it has been my own private slice of paradise, my little laboratory of garden experiments and trial and error. This garden has been the first space that has been all my own—not a garden in a yard owned by someone else, not a plot in a community garden. My garden. My humble little corner of this big, wide world.

It’s been a place to plunge my two hands deep in the soil and connect with the mysteries and miracles of the natural world. My relationship with this garden has been more intimate than with other gardens I’ve tended. I (and my partner-in-crime, Mr. Creative Vegetable Gardener) have shaped and cajoled her from a sad scrap of dirt into the beauty of riotous color and texture she is today.

Many people have been asking me, “But how can you leave your garden?” I ask myself this sometimes as well.

woman in garden picking beets

But then I realize it’s not my garden. It’s a garden—a patch of earth that I’ve had the blessing and the pleasure to tend these past seven years. I don’t own it, and I certainly don’t have much control over it. So mostly I just joke, “Well, my work here is done. Time to move on.

And there is a lot of truth in that statement. I am a creator. I know this about myself. I love to brainstorm and design and experiment and perfect. And when the project (garden, mosaic, program) arrives at a point of stability and function, I start to feel that old familiar stirring inside of me. I hear the whispers of other adventures out there waiting for me.

There are always new projects to conceive and more gardens to create.

So in these days of waning light and warmth I am making a sacrament of cleaning out my garden. Each plant pulled is a farewell, and every hay bale spread evokes a feeling of deep gratitude. I will miss the old girl, I will, but those whispers are getting louder and I am having exciting visions of the new garden.

It’s time to move on.




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