A few weeks ago, a very kind woman and friend peeked out our back door and remarked, while taking a gander at our yard, “Wow, your garden has really changed!” What this person meant, I am fairly certain, is that what was once my garden essentially no longer exists. I know she didn’t mean any offense; but for a moment I wondered if she, as a fellow avid gardener, might have felt bad for me, seeing the disappearance of my garden as a sacrifice made not necessarily unwillingly but begrudgingly, accompanied by a sense of loss.
When we moved into our home, our backyard was an empty canvas; and I, as a novice yet incredibly enthusiastic gardener, filled the space with every striking plant that caught my eye. I lined the periphery with a variety of sun- and shade-loving perennials and filled pots with colorful annuals. It was thrilling to be able to express myself in this fashion as I had grown up in an apartment complex and never had the opportunity to tend–let along create–a garden. Sitting in the middle of our yard on the patio that we had built surrounded by lush plant life on all sides was sumptuous to say the least.
But slowly, with the arrival of children, needs emerged that could only be solved by looking to our backyard. We installed a fenced-in dog area within our already fenced-in yard so that our dogs would have a place to conduct their business, and we would not have to do a survey and clean-up of our yard every time we wanted to go out with toddling and curious children. We also put up a shed, which solved a host of storage problems. We then replaced mulch with grass so that summers in the kiddie pool would be a little less messy for all involved. Add to that a very large outdoor play set, sand box, teeter totter, tractor, tricycle, scooter, shovels, rakes, a Little Tikes basketball hoop, a trampoline, and every other outdoor toy imaginable, and soon the garden disappeared. What is left is a tiny perennial garden on the south side of the yard and strategically placed pots and garden accouterments throughout the yard.
It’s not the same as it once was–but, then again, neither are we. When it was just the two of us, the yard and garden offered a sanctuary from our busy work weeks, a warm and fragrant environment in which to put up our feet, read, and nap. Now that we are a family of five, the yard and garden is an ode to childhood joy. This was a willing and conscious move, resulting in a place where my children and everyone we know feel welcome, safe, and embraced. The beauty still surrounds us, though it has taken a different form.
And this is more sumptuous than I ever could have imagined.