When I was growing up my parents gardened - alot. Flowers, veggies, you name it and they probably planted it. I was often dragged along on long shopping trips to nursery after nursery looking for the perfect plants. So, naturally, it was then and there that I decided I would never have a grassy yard, much less a garden. Yes, I pledged to have a concrete yard which I would have painted green in order to please my neighbors with simulated grass. Brilliant.
Fast forward many years to the purchase of our first (and expected only) house. We house shopped while I was pregnant with Wyatt and against my will. My husband pushed me to do it even though shopping for a house was the last thing I wanted to do while waiting for my baby to die - but I am forever grateful that we did. We moved in just one month after Wyatt was born and haven't looked back since. Shortly after moving in we decided to plant a tree for Wyatt. Thus, the weeping willow. Just a tree wasn't good enough, I wanted to create a baby garden in his memory which would be filled with baby-named or friendly plants like lamb's ear, baby's breath, snapdragons, tiger lilies and bleeding hearts. True to my nature, I dove right in with little knowledge or skill. Plants grew and flowers bloomed.
The next spring, much to my dismay, plants and flowers grew, but not all came back. In a way it was fitting, neither did my son. It was just a reminder of another season passed without him and how life goes on, but it is changed. A stinging reminder of death's presence. So I planted again and seeded my hopes of new life, that something beautiful could grow in the absence of something beautiful that had been before.
In those moments I have learned so much. I have learned that the best laid plans don't always work out. I can plant the most beautiful flowers, water them, feed them, protect and nurture them, and sometimes they won't come back the next spring. Sometimes, I find that they have moved to an unexpected place, which can be a lovely surprise or a frustrating exercise in relocation. I can do everything right, the right zone, right amount of sunshine, right amount of water and sometimes it just doesn't work out. Other times I can dig a hole and then do absolutely nothing else while nature takes care of itself and I am rewarded with beauty and fragrance. My time in the garden has been invaluable, especially considering that I am definitely a type A, control freak, personality. It has taught me to let go. It has taught me that I don't always know what's best. It has taught me to appreciate the little surprises and find joy in the smallest living things. I am more carefree, or reckless, (depending on your perspective) than ever in my garden. I now have a good feel for plants and I know perennials well enough to divide and attempt to conquer - which basically means that I freely dig up plants and stick them in the ground in semi-random locations to see what will happen.
Over the last almost nine years since I planted Wyatt's garden it has changed much. Thankfully many of the original plants are still thriving. He enjoys the fragrance of baby's breath each summer, the poignant reminder of pink bleeding hearts, the fun and enormously tall tiger lilies, ever-so-soft lamb's ear which his sisters & I love to touch, little snapdragons that talk to us and new additions of purple dianthus, blue columbine, blue/purple Jacob's ladder, yellow coreopsis, many baby roses and special purple irises which have been in our family since I was a child. There are also little volunteer Johnny jump ups and beautiful California poppies that fill in most of the empty space with color and whimsy. Last year we added on Eli's garden which has many of the same plants but now also beautiful yellow daffodils and a sweet little hydrangea tree.
Every single one of those nine years the garden has changed, whether I have touched it or not. It is a work in progress, like myself. It is also one of my greatest teachers.