Monday, July 6, 2015

The Evolution of a Garden

My Mom's lot is a wooded space that tells a 50 year story of family and growth.  When my parents bought the lot on Meadowood Road in Kingston in 1956, it was an empty space with a creek at the back, and a small house in progress.  Today, this space is burgeoning with gardens, mature trees, wild flowers, and workshops and sheds. 

As we were growing up, my mom did much to bring this space to life.  Raising four kids, she had little time for gardening, but somehow she managed to make the wooded spaces and the tended gardens work together. 

Over the years, the space took on the character of our family.  It reflects the hard times and the happy times and everything in between with a gentleness and laughter, as well as a hardy striving, and a talent for survival. 

My brothers and sister and I spent many hours in the woods around our property, or at the mill pond fishing or playing or gathering chestnuts and strawberries.  Our childhoods were filled with these endless hours surrounded by natural beauty.  Much of that is now covered by housing, but through the years, I transplanted trilliums, and jack-in-the-pulpits and ferns from the woods and marshlands around Collins Bay into my mom's gardens.

Today, these reminders of our childhood thrive year to year alongside my mom's lilac trees, tulips and daffodils, dogwood, blood root, rose bushes and the many ash and maple trees that shade the lot.

Mom's garden became a hybrid of who we are and the natural surroundings of where we had made our home.  As they blended into the unique character of what we now call, simply, 'Meadowood' to refer to our childhood home, this space has become an integral part of our identity as a family.

When my dad died four years ago and my mom was diagnosed with leukemia that same year, our lot suffered.  Neglected for chemo treatments and funerals and estate settling, the plants became overgrown, branches died, the ash trees were at risk by beetles, and the grass became tangled with weeds. 

My mother was unable to tend to her flowers, and the usual baskets of annuals did not make it to her lot. But underneath it all, the plants she had so carefully tended year after year, the roses my sister had planted, the trilliums and wild flowers I had transplanted struggled to claim their patch of soil and waited for our family to take notice again.

This year, my mom is healthy and happy again.  With renewed energy, she and my sister have returned to the gardening they love, and with the help of a gardener, they are restoring our lot on Meadowood. 

As the flowers bloom, the trees spring to life and the beds become free of weeds, the stunning legacy of Mom's garden is being returned to us. Its beauty and stunning refusal to relinquish its claim to this particular bit of turf reminds me of the resilience of home and family. 

Now, as we make a concerted effort to restore balance and growth, order and beauty, the lesson of Mom's garden is a simple one.

However many weeds sprout and threaten to choke us out of our life, the true nature of who we are, the roots we put down, the potential to return and bloom better than before will always be waiting for us underneath.