Letting go of a House and Garden


My old house above. Photo taken from back yard probably in February.

(Note as mentioned in my first post, I am not a great photographer.  Please excuse the quality of all photos.)

I took a look at on-line photos of my old house yesterday.  It’s of course bittersweet.  The photos on Google are two years old but depict dry gray soil beneath sparse grass and a garden hose left out that was obviously used to water the front bed.

I can’t say I’m surprised by the gray-ish tan soil because that’s the way the soil remained for me despite compost and copious amendments.  The land seemed to devour good soil “food” but never improved much.  It was a continuous battle.


(Public Google photo above.  Not for resale.)

Because of this awful “soil,” my husband and I participated in the torture of a large number of plants that ultimately couldn’t handle the caliche and über dry conditions.  Plants such as plumbago, lorapetalum, Buddleias of every variety (8 or 9 died), daylilies of all kinds, old fashioned irises of all types, lavenders, hyssops, cupheas, species tulips, tuberose, artemesia, yarrow, blackberries, Confederate roses and so forth all met their demise in our yard.  Many plants that were supposed to grow in our area downright refused.  Yes, we could have grown cacti, agaves, and yuccas or JUST wildflowers and weeds, but that wasn’t the look we were after.  We instead opted for natives of a more leafy, less pointy, variety and were eventually successful.

Where am I going with this?  Probably where you think I am.  No surprises.  While I could no longer maintain my old garden alone, I miss it.  This was one reason I lived in my old house for an additional 10 years after my husband passed away.  How could I leave this 15-year old garden that we’d both poured our souls into?  And the garden, despite the horrific droughts, always seemed to bounce back:  It didn’t get watered for all of 2006 (a drought year).  Not a drop.  It survived the 2011 drought with little water and in the end, it bloomed en masse for me that fall.  It was as if my plants said, “Don’t give up!  We have to shut down during these droughts to survive, but if you’re patient, we’ll let you see exactly what we can do when things get better.”

The city I lived in changed over the 27 years I was there: More traffic. Eight hundred people moved there weekly in 2013/2014. Everyday there seemed to be more city rules, increases in the cost of city services, and tons more development.  My job took a turn for the worse in terms of the workload. Water restrictions seemed to wring everything DRY.  I was tired of it so when the last kid graduated from college, I decided to actively pursue a different life. I sold the house and left the city.


(Above -Husband installing 85 ft brick pathway at the old house. His over-time money was used to purchase the bricks.  Oh, and did I mention my husband was blind?)

I suppose the biggest loss is I will never be able to go back and walk through the garden again or take cuttings, which was my original plan. And the new owner will never know or understand my attachment to the 10 ft tall mountain laurel I grew from a seed or the white flowering pomegranate cuttings I propagated nor will she understand the special meaning of the five possum haw hollies planted along the fence line that are now lovely trees–all started from one gallon pots.  (We were broke when we planted them but bought them despite this.)


(Pathway beds after planting.  Garden is still a baby.)

The new owner refused to meet with me so I was never able to discuss anything house or garden-related. (I requested a meeting no less than three times.)

Does she know there’s a water faucet buried deep in the front bed to the right of the bridge such that she doesn’t have to drag a water hose from the back yard to water?  Probably not. Does she know one of the light switches by the back door turns on three lights in the attic?  Probably not.  Will she love the garden deeply the way I did and know the plants all by name?  I doubt it.

I hid a letter in the house and a different letter is buried in a jar within a jar in the yard.  They aren’t meant for the new owner…and my hope is she doesn’t find them.

Maybe someday she will sell the place, and I can go back to ask if I could take some cuttings…Of course nothing stays the same.—Gardens or houses-– although my former neighbors tell me nothing has changed much outside that they can see.

I dreamed the new owner painted the beautiful long-leaf pine staircase inside the house bright pink.  Wonder what that means?

But I now have a new garden with plants I could never have grown previously with sandy loam to grow them in!!!!  Moreover, my current yard and house are all manageable for a single person.  It helps.

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