Visiting old haunts can be disconcerting
Over the past 20 years I have developed some incredibly beautiful gardens, first in Montana, and then in a couple places in Oregon. I am not sure what part of my makeup causes me to wonder how these gardens are being cared for or kept up but in each case whenever I am visiting these communities I always seem to gravitate back to my former home and check out the yard. Needless to say I have been disappointed in a couple instances and question why it is important for me to see how it has changed.
This past weekend I traveled back to Coos Bay, Ore., a beautiful setting about midway down the coast on the Pacific Ocean. I lived there in the late 90's and developed a botanical garden a few miles from the sea, out in the forest. It was an ideal setting for a garden, facing southeast and over a period of three years or so I changed the two-acre weed patch into a garden with streams, ponds, rock walls, and a rose garden. With the abundance of moisture along the coast the garden flourished. I gathered great rocks from the neighboring mountains and interesting driftwood from the beaches and streams that run into the ocean.
I must admit that it was my pride and joy and had a very tough time leaving that garden. I have been gone from the coast for two and half years now and since I sold the place to a good friend of mine she had invited me out to have lunch overlooking the garden I had so lovingly nourished. It is six years old and the little shrubs I put in are now full grown trees. The ground cover has spread and the pond has aged and looks as though it had been part of the landscape for decades.
On my drive to the property, I was nervous, only because I knew it would have changed. I knew the people who bought the home loved gardening but were busy with jobs, families and friends. I remembered the hours of work it took to keep it weeded and growing, so my concern grew and I drew closer.
I also remembered driving back to Montana once and making a point to drive around the block and down the alley of a home where I had also created a large garden. I was so disappointed as I saw the overgrown shrubs, out of control weeds and the rock garden that was in shambles. I vowed not to put myself through that again but here I was about to expose myself to the same kind of torment.
Although many things had changed, the garden was incredible. The new owner did find that much of the space was planted too closely as it grew up it needed space to spread apart. A couple of the walkways were torn out and a new patch of blueberries had been added. The grape arbor was gone but the herb garden was flourishing, with numerous shades of greens and yellows. The roses were doing extremely well, but my beloved Dahlias were all but gone. They were just too much work and took up a lot of space. But the garden really had matured and some of the little plants I remember starting were now four and six feet high.
As I sat on the deck over the garden I could not help reflect back to the work and joy I had received in building and caring for the project.
I was so relieved to see it taking on its own shape and style.
As I walked away I was glad I had braved the visit and extremely proud of the vision I had once had; to create a beautiful botanical garden in an area where gardens really grow and flourish.