This last year, for my family, has been one of loss and also lots of joy. We lost a good friend in the spring, the first in our group. Also my father in-law in September. These are the kind of losses that make you sad and wish you would have gotten together more, but in the end, it doesn’t affect your day to day life because you don’t live with that person. We’re all so busy that we don’t get together as often as we’d like. In my father in-laws case, he lived 1000 miles away from us. My husband, of course, will miss his dad and I will miss a quiet, intelligent loving man who was a part of my life since I was twenty two.
I can’t stress this enough, the garden is a great healer. Through it all, my garden has gone on. I’ve had sorrow there but also peace and hard work, joy and even fear.
In May our old dachshund, Tilly, became ill and we had to make the very hard decision to end her life. If you have dogs, I’m sure you’ve had to make this decision yourself. It’s never easy. A friend recommended a mobile vet and it was best thing I could have done. She was so considerate and caring. I made a bed for Tilly out under the Kiwi and sat with her until it was over. We buried her next to the purple rhodie and planted a climbing rose behind the grave. I have the pieces to make a dachshund sculpture instead of a headstone for her, I hope to have it done this summer.
We also had a wedding this year, our eldest daughter, the rehearsal dinner in our garden. It was a lot of hard work to make sure it looked the best it could. I was surprised at myself that I didn’t fret over the unfinished or future planned projects, like the ugly old fence. We focused on making it as functional and attractive as possible. I wish I could say that I took loads of photos, but never in my life have I thought to capture a moment with a camera. The photos here were taken by my lovely niece, Valerie, just a week after the dinner.
The weather was perfect and the garden proved to be a fabulous venue. I separated it into eating areas, a drinks area and a play area for the kids. There were lights and gorgeous greens and flowers blooming everywhere.
Which brings us to it’s current state. Summer came and went, I did my annual routine of cleaning up and storing away my decorative pieces and things that don’t do well in the cold. Then about a week before Christmas, here in the Pacific Northwest, we were hit with a horrendous ice storm. It was frightening because all night long there were cracks and booms and the house shook. We were luckier than lots of other folks, nothing went through the roof! But going out the next morning to a huge mess from our big oak tree, pictured here in the summer-
and the mess it made during the ice storm…
The broken branches and debris will be cleaned up and the damage will be assessed as spring gets closer. The roof is covered with debris but no holes or leaks so far. The grape arbor withstood two fairly large hits, attesting to the quality of my husbands building skills. I know the artichokes were split in half but it missed the copper birdhouse stand, thankfully. The garden bench was destroyed. Truthfully, we’ve had it since 1992 when we first moved to Oregon. I was a little wistful because it was a favorite climbing spot for my two year old granddaughter, giving her the joy of being able to climb something and also a great spot to stand and pick raspberries that she wouldn’t otherwise be able to reach. But it will be replaced with something a little more stable and probably more attractive.
I know I’ll enjoy the process, as I do every year, of tending and improving the landscape. The red oak will probably not survive this. I’ve already talked to a tree man about topping it off and just letting the ivy take over like a tall column statue. It is a beautiful tree in all seasons, but having lost huge branches, not only in winter, but one fell in August as well. Luckily no one was in the garden at the time, but what about next time? I also look forward to allowing more light and sun into the yard, so I won’t worry about it for too long. I know my neighbor feels the same way about that tree, our last big snow two years ago, dropped a branch and flattened their patio cover!
Yes, that’s a new puppy next to the fallen bench. What’s a garden without a resident pet? Jesse is her name and she thinks this snow is great fun! I can’t wait to see her frolic in the green and warmth of summer.