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Letting Go Is Hard To Do

Saying farewell to a beloved garden


I’ll admit it: I’m a garden hussy. In fact, I’m currently having love affairs with numerous gardens all across town. I have no shame. With an insatiable appetite for all-things-gardening, no one garden will satisfy. Sadly, this week, I said goodbye to one on my most cherished. I’ll call her, Eden. 

Years ago, I cut my professional gardening teeth on Eden. Upon meeting her, I was intimidated and awkward. She was graceful and welcoming. It wasn’t long, though, before I stopped getting lost in her three acres of nooks and crannies and starting getting lost in her perfect charm. A beautiful, give-and-take relationship ensued. I helped keep her lovely and healthy, and in return, well, she showed me nothing less than the world. I was smitten.

Seldom was there a day where Eden didn’t kindly offer a drink of inspiration to anyone who entered her home. An up-close look at the annual unfurling of hundreds of fiddleheads. Tribal-like woodpecker art on a cedar. Heart-racing close encounters with the local deer. Fuzzy kiwi fruits dangling from an arbor. Gasp-inducing Hydrangea blooms. Delicious fragrances that make you light on your feet. Day-long private concerts performed by a chorus of countless birds (all of whom were there fulfilling their own arrangement with Eden). These memories, plus a million more, are what I will carry with me as we part ways. 

As someone who works and plays in the natural world, I understand the inevitability of change and its beauty. After all, the value in gardening, as in all things, is in the process. A garden is not an object, it’s an experience. And Eden has certainly delivered on experience.

So, on my last day, as the family was busy indoors sorting through books and preparing for their big move, I was outside helping collect a few shade-loving perennials for their new garden at their new home. I couldn’t help but take a few mementos for myself: a hunk of hellebore, an asparagus crown, a cutting from the papyrus plant. Then, I packed up my tools and took a slow walk around the property, soaking up as much as I could. I couldn’t help but worry about her future state. Will the new residents, and the lucky gardeners that come with them, know that she likes her asters cut back mid-season? Or that a close eye must be kept on the spearmint, lest it take over the shasta daisies? “Relax, I’ll be fine.” Eden said in her calming tone I’d come to depend on. Right, you’ll be just fine. And so will I. Tears welled. 

So long, Eden. It’s been a pleasure. Call me sometime. We’ll reminisce. 

*You can view a sneak-peek of Eden, in all her glory, here and also here. I took these videos in May of 2011, a day before the family hosted their son's wedding, hence the hustle and bustle you hear in the background. 

OBY DUPREE January 15, 2012 at 01:02 PM
Great story and I know that feeling!
Toni Senory January 15, 2012 at 03:32 PM
Thank you, Oby. This is my first time experiencing these feelings. I knew I'd be sentimental but I wasn't expecting it to be so persistent. I keep wondering how Lucy Allen and her family must feel about leaving it behind after all these years. There might be a bit of relief as the garden is so massive and such a commitment to keep up with. Lucy has been such a pleasure to work with. She and her garden are the dynamic duo! Her garden expertise and fantastic sense of design have influenced me professionally and personally in countless ways.
Meg Dure January 15, 2012 at 03:33 PM
Toni, this is absolutely charming. I think I know that garden well, and I love the way you described it. You have such a gift when it comes to expression. As always thank you for starting my Sunday off so beautifully
Chena January 15, 2012 at 03:55 PM
Toni, what an evocative portrayal. Your metaphors are beautiful. I love this article.
Toni Senory January 15, 2012 at 03:59 PM
Thank you, Meg! I'm learning that so many are familiar with this piece of paradise. After all, she's been on several garden tours and has hosted numerous other festive engagements over the years. The new residents are inheriting a garden with some seriously positive mojo!
Angela Leake Wredberg January 15, 2012 at 04:25 PM
Just watching the video made my blood pressure drop by about 10 points. Makes me miss Georgia even more. Thanks for sharing Toni.
Toni Senory January 15, 2012 at 06:56 PM
How nice. Thank you!
Toni Senory January 15, 2012 at 06:59 PM
The garden has the the same effect on me too, Angie. Georgia misses you too. Maybe we'll get you back someday!
Lucy allen January 15, 2012 at 08:59 PM
You brought tears to my eyes...and a sense of shared joy and appreciation. Thank you for all you have contributed to "Eden" over the years and for your tribute to her.lucy
Lucy allen January 15, 2012 at 09:13 PM
So now I have seen the video...and you are a pro...like filming an aging movie star,thru a veil,finding the best angles, emphasizing the good ,blurring the flaws! Lucy


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