Farewell, My Not-So-Secret Garden

Eons ago when we moved into our current residence, one section of the backyard had a brick fireplace surrounded by a large American elm, two dogwoods, and a redbud that set off a burst of spectacular blooms every spring. After a few years D and I brought in a professional landscaper who added three 8-foot Austrian pines to the area, finishing it off with a ground cover of red mulch. The Park, we named our private refuge.

We soon added a wood and wrought iron bench and on either side of the bench, arum italicum, a bulb plant that produced rich, green foliage followed by spikes of red berries. I pictured myself sitting on the bench, alone in my solitude to read or to contemplate the mysteries of life. Over the years a roadside fence across half of our backyard further contained what I eventually considered my not-so-secret garden. Along the fence an existing lilac thrived—the old-fashioned variety that produced fragrant flowers every spring. At some point a volunteer spruce popped up. No problem letting it stay. We added peonies that came from a property Offspring #2 owned at the time.

Here and there around the garden we planted a variety of hostas, some of which I bought through a local garden club. Others came from Uncle J who has since passed, and from J our catering friend, whose Hostas multiply faster than my weeds, which says a lot. Mustn’t forget my favorite flower—columbine, both volunteers and special varieties I ordered from plant catalogues. Add to the columbine, old-fashioned geraniums and on the far side, goldenrods which didn’t hang around for long because they made me sneeze. And Larkspur that came back year after year. Oregano that came from another Offspring #2 property filled in the gaps. A nice hydrangea didn’t do as well as the original located on the north side of our house. Somehow clumps of coneflowers took root, but due to lack of direct sunlight, a much lighter shade than those growing elsewhere in the yard.

Contemplating life on the park bench didn’t work out too well. Every time I sat there, I noticed weeds that needed pulling, plants that needed trimming. Twice, we, as in Hubby D and at least one other offspring of our offspring, replaced the weed barrier and ground cover—a huge undertaking. Then lightning struck the American elm, leaving a huge gap in the trunk. D wanted the whole tree gone. I insisted on calling in an arborist who trimmed away all the dead wood. The tree came back, reasonably well for a few more years.

Last spring, one of the two dogwoods didn’t bloom. Nor did the redbud. It had gasped its final breath. The Austrian pines, now thirty-feet tall, had more needles turning brown than green. The restored elm finally gave up its fight. Time to re-evaluate.

In the fall we called in a tree removal expert who confirmed what we already suspected. Within a matter of hours, my not-so-secret garden was totally obliterated. Well, ninety percent of it, leaving the brick fireplace and one dogwood, plus a number of plants surrounding what once had been a thriving area. Eventually, we will relocate the homeless plants to needy areas throughout the yard. The not-so-little Spruce will stay where it is, having reached a height of 30 feet.

This spring we hired a terrific yard guy to remove the weed barrier and ground cover for the last time. What a chore! The whole process of pulling out was much more time consuming than that of putting in.

Farewell, my not-so-secret garden. Nothing was meant to last forever. Except maybe the gingko tree in our front yard.

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About Loretta Giacoletto

Loretta Giacoletto is an American writer of family sagas, mysteries, and contemporary fiction, all of which contain elements of crime. She divides her time between the St. Louis Metropolitan area and Missouri's Lake of the Ozarks where she writes fiction, essays, and her bi-monthly blog, Loretta on Life, while her husband Dominic cruises the waters for bass and crappie. Their five children have left the once chaotic nest but occasionally return for her to-die-for ravioli and roasted peppers topped with garlic-laden bagna càuda. An avid traveler, she has visited numerous countries in Europe and Asia but Italy remains her favorite, especially the area from where her family originates: the Piedmont region near the Italian Alps. - See more at: http://www.loretta-giacoletto.com
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