Thursday, June 25, 2009


The stepping out into private garden maintenance, out of a short trial in retail, and magazines and wishful thinking, required a leap of faith. To meander front garden perimeters, balance on rock walls, enter into backyards through side gates and around behind .
It magnified my nervousness , threshold crossings in both surrender and anticipation.

A journey into what I longed to feel familiar, what I longed for, so unknown.
It was only through the kind reaching out of a past acquaintance, now special friend, that I got the chance to do this at all, sub-contracting with an eager smile, newly stiff gloves, and pocket guides to Ontario plants tucked at the bottom of my tool bucket.
I was drawn in to the light, onward, and on the clock, by this magnificent inviting wall of climbing hydrangea greeting me that early summer morning.
I remember steadying my breathing, labouring into that light , a few more steps to getting the I forgot how hard this used to be moment behind me.
This garden isn't particularly large, flowing around the pool and deck and patio with a good mix of both common and newer shrubs, perennials, and older trees, a simple addition of annuals for colour. Scattered about are the odd trinkets and ornaments, tasteful and cheerful.
The space invites. It is casual and comfortable, neat yet unpretentious.
I can't tell you how relieved I was, and how honoured and grateful to have such an opportunity to poke around and soak up such easy beauty.

There is good placement of contrast, such as the blue oat grass with the barberry, variety of texture, and staggered bloom time colour, unifying the backyard bordered by the newly planted cedar hedge , with the style of the home itself.
I was challenged right from that first scheduled visit, when it came time to prune the variegated Japanese willow standard, sweat beads from sun and stretching and skittish wielding of blades, praying to leave few cross branches, and enough life and form.
After edging and raking and sweeping, all I could think of was the Ikea commercial... shouting "Start the Car" to myself as I fumbled and stumbled with everything in one trip to make my getaway before I was found out. I didn't have master gardener training to offer, Latin in pockets , or years of tending anything more than a tiny patch of hope by our old play set, and the more recent experiments in don't you know your yard is shady now poolscaping.
I've gone through a few pairs of gloves since then, lost a pair of expensive pruners, gained more clients, and a permanent boot tan.
This home with it's front , side and back plantings truly brings joy.
It is a just the right sized piece of suburbia in the older mature treed part of the city. A slightly tired , time to freshen up, imperfect here and there sanctuary. The stubborn old vines keep sneaking over the window sills, the windswept climbing rose blooms in spite of itself. The cedar hedge has flourished and has made a reworking of some of the now shadow cast spots the latest project.
The family that blesses this space couldn't be any warmer or sincere or giving. I could feel it right away , back that first day , when she took the time to email mail me afterwards with gushing thanks, insisting on paying more than I had shyly undercharged.
I knew it in soggy aching bones when he approached me to share his ideas for the changes and wanted to know what I thought and introduced me to his son.
When her mother took sicker than she had been and grew weaker, she wore it on her face, in her walk , her tiny frame of grieving soul slouched a bit in the doorway. Her painless passing breaking and filling my heart, witnessing and touched by such love and grace.
It is a real home garden , sweeping around and hugging a truly beautiful family, and I still get a little tremble there at that solid iron gate, so grateful to get to wrap up in it for a while, and carry it with me forever.

I am posting this as the first of the A Stroll and a Ramble entries. In which I sort of highlight a garden I work on, or covet, or visit, and will no doubt unfold it as a story.
There is abundance of fabulous foliage , unique tastes and inspiring design in our community , and I'm certain that in shining some light on it, we could all learn and share , growing from each other. We are neighbours after all.

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful images and lovely story. I particularly liked the ending, starting from "I was challenged right from the start." Lovely words.