My back garden before I got the spade out.
Dahlia 'Karma Choc'
One Gorgeous Peony in the middle of a hurriedly put together arrangement
Hellebores in one of my favourite arrangements ever - I loved doing this one..
Over to You...
I'd love to hear your stories of gardens you've left behind or of the plants that you have a special connection with.
Just leave a comment if you feel so inclined.
About a year ago, I was expecting to be moving house in January. The sale of our house was going along relatively smoothly and we had had an offer accepted on a lovely cottage. So, naturally, my thoughts turned to the garden. How many plants could I take with me? Would it be bad form to take everything? I decided that it would, despite the fact that our buyers weren't really interested in the garden or any of the plants.
I spent quite a few days ruminating over this question and I eventually found myself with spade and fork in hand on a cold December day staring at my first choice for relocation. I loved this plant and it had to come with me. So, I began to dig up my garden - quite a bit of it.
The reason I'm telling you this is because I learned a salutary lesson as I identified the chosen few. You see, as I started to remove these precious friends, I was transported and taken on a trip down memory lane. Each plant provoked emotions, conjured stories, memories, associations that I had forgotten about and I realised to my horror that I‘d been taking my precious garden for granted! In some ways I had lost touch with it and I felt sad that my attention had been so diverted for so long.
So, Where to Start?
I started with a Dahlia 'Karma Choc'. I'd spent a small fortune on beautiful Dahlias that year - primarily for cutting. They were so voluptuous - velvety, burgundy, sunshine yellows and purest whites. I couldn't be without them. 'Karma Choc' had been a gift from a good friend and as I thrust the fork into the soil and eased up the yams, I was thinking of my friend - her wicked sense of humour, her common sense down-to-earthness and her compassionate and generous heart. I was smiling but sad and I knew there was no way this Dahlia was being left behind.
Next up was the Bergamot. What a stunning flower and so beloved by the bees and hoverflies. A plant whose leaves and petals can be eaten in salads and drunk in teas and that looks wonderful in a vase for days.
I dug up 5 plants and was suddenly reminded of my customer and friend, Joan, who mentioned to me only a few weeks before that Bergamot was one of her favourites but she had never been able to grow it. I chose a particularly healthy specimen and planted it in her garden a few days later while the weather was still kind. I thought how I would miss her and her beautiful garden when I moved and hoped that she would think of me when the Bergamot came into flower each year.
Then there were the Dianthus – several lovely varieties planted for their edible flowers that last for ages in a vase. Just a few cut to differing lengths in a posy vase and placed on the chest of drawers or dressing table - what a lovely welcome to the day.
They have that lovely old fashioned look about them that always
reminds me of my Nan. They’re the sort of thing your Nan would
Speaking of my Nan, I couldn’t walk away from my peonies.
One of my Nan’s favourites and therefore one of mine.
These are the flowers of my early childhood.
I marvelled at the tightly clenched buds that refused to
reveal themselves for weeks on end as I walked up the path to my Nans front door. One day I would find that they had suddenly capitulated and sprung open to flaunt themselves as if walking onto the stage at the BAFTAs. “Look at me!” they shout “Aren’t I gorgeous darling?”
I needed two large pots for the Rosemary and Sage that were amongst the first plants I put in when we moved into the house eight years earlier. They had been so happy side by side and were quite big. It was hard work digging them up, carefully separating them (which in itself felt cruel, like separating twins at birth). It had to be done – how could I leave behind two of the most useful plants in the garden? Two plants that add so much to your cooking and stalwarts of the herbal medicine chest. They produce such lovely edible flowers too and the bees and ladybirds both adore them. I use them a lot in flower arranging. They had to come with me.
A few days later, I thought I’d just about finished digging up all the plants I wanted from my front garden but then I realised I had overlooked the Hellebores! How could I have done that? The most photographed and beloved of all! I had two large clumps just outside the front door; given as divisions by my partners Mum when we moved in.
They were so healthy and flowered so profusely for so many weeks.
The most demure of flowers – such a contrast to the peonies. I added them to the rest – all potted up, waiting patiently in the holding bay that my front garden had become, not knowing their fate, with no idea of what awaited. Just like me. In limbo, hoping that the wait would be short and the winter would be kind.
I was now leaving this place and this garden and I wished I’d paid it more attention. I was reminded of the good friends I was leaving and of the many hours of love I had poured into this garden and I felt sorry – I felt like I owed it an apology. I needed to offer up some gratitude to this garden that had nourished my soul so deeply for so many years.
So, that’s my tale of the plants I couldn’t bear to leave behind. It is my hope that by sharing this story with you that you might be encouraged to look at your garden afresh and remember why you love it. Maybe even re-connect with some of your old plant friends that you perhaps haven't spoken to for a while - keep the love alive and remember what your garden gives you and how nourishing it is; how much it feeds your soul.
Remember to garden with LOVE in your heart.