The Serendipity of an Inherited Garden

Cottontail Cottage has a yard, and while it’s small, it’s the only one I’ve ever really owned. As we approached the final sale, I started haunting gardening blogs and drawing up lists. Though I’ve only ever managed a few cherry tomato bushes and a few herbs, I was excited to expand my gardening repertoire. We closed at the end of March and moved in mid-April and I was raring to go. And then…we stalled.

First J got sick, then Pippin, then Scout. I think it’s rained ever single day in May so far, and my rain boots cracked in April. Summer 2016 entails a lot of travel for us, and I’m trying to be realistic about if we can commit to weeding and watering — our vegetable garden for 2015 only survived because of the stealthy help of our neighbors, quietly watering and weeding for us as we figured out this two-kid thing.

But in the meantime, I’m getting to know what’s already here, just as I did in our last house.

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the forsythia and daffodils someone else planted

At our old house in the suburbs, we had forsythia and daffodils, tulips and hyacinth. At Cottontail Cottage, we have a lot of dead grass, but also two dogwoods, and an azalea and a thing that might be a rose bush and might be a weed, and some tulips which I step on all the time getting out of the car. There’s purple stuff the lady next door says is columbine. We have a big brush heap that is going to need to be addressed, and also we have a peony bush that I’m crushing on pretty seriously.

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Love you, boo.

Peonies are what I would have had in my wedding bouquet if money were no object, but they don’t grow in Florida.

So instead of jumping into gardening and then leaving everything to languish through the heat of the summer, I’m trying to embrace the slow landscaping of a lifetime. One of our first weekends here, Pippin and I planted a freebie redbud tree — twig, really — in our yard, and it seems to be taking. I love the idea that if it survives and prospers, we will always be able to measure our time in the house by the growth of the tree.

I’m making dream-lists in my head, and asking all the gardeners in my life for advice. I want a kitchen garden, and so my sweet friend is starting herbs for me while we are away. Another friend has offered me hyacinth from her yard. I want something tendril-y to cover the ugly chain link fence that surrounds our backyard. I want forsythia, which reminds me of my mom, and lilac, which reminds me of my granny. I want irises, which are what I had in my wedding bouquet instead of peonies, and which bloom magically every year about the time of our anniversary.

It’s a fine thing to dream, but in the meantime, I will watch, and wait, and enjoy the sweet surprise of a garden worked by other hands than mine.

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Author: Katherine Grimm Bowers

Babies. Books. Fledgling housewifery. Once and future librarian. Catholic. Always thinking about chocolate ice cream.

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