Gardening. Tick. Another chore gone from the long list of things to do before we move on 5 January.

Unneeded kneeler and gardening gloves

Today, I’ve been in our garden. More correctly, I’ve been in the garden which has been, and will soon no longer be, our garden. This is the unsettling time between houses. Pulling up weeds makes a pleasant change from sorting cupboards and packing boxes. We’re off to an apartment in Subiaco. You can read about it here.

The secateurs, a little fork, my favourite gardening gloves with the green plastic palms and the cotton backs got a good work-out. My friend, Helen, introduced me to these gloves  years ago, along with the practice of slathering barrier cream on my hands before the gloves to protect skin and nails. We don’t see each other now, but I remember the things we shared. Funny how gardening brings up so many memories.

Oh, and my trusty kneeler came into the garden, too, the one with the padded bar which morphs into a seat if you turn it over. To garden would be impossible without it because of my arthritic knees. Even on the kneeler, they complain bitterly about the travails of their shared lives. Sometimes their companion ankles get in on the act. Between all of them, and the fingers that pull at weeds and wield the tools, the chorus is powerful.

The rose bushes gladly gave up their dead heads, and I noticed with satisfaction a crop of new buds almost ready to burst. Pink evening primroses which added a riot of colour, as well as a layer of green mulch all spring, found their way into the green waste bin. The dahlias I forgot to pull up when they finished flowering obviously forgave me. They’re pushing new growth into the air along one of the fences. Alyssum grows in the spaces in between.

I pruned back, hard, that pink and white plant whose name I’ve forgotten. John hated the way it grew so rampantly over the sprinklers, and I often reminded him how much we loved it the first time we saw it growing wild on the verges and in side streets in Sète. .

John raked and swept the paths after I finished. Later he will plant a few punnets of soft pink vincas to fill in the holes left when the weeds and primroses went.

My tools have been packed away. The garden looks bare, sparse, but that won’t last long. In a few weeks it will return to its old glory for the new owners. Hopefully, they’ll see how much someone loved this garden and will want to keep it up. It only takes a little while; It’s not very big.

Some people, like me, can count their lives by their gardens. But now my gardening life, my active gardening life, at any rate, is at an end. There will be a few herbs and a dwarf lemon tree on our lovely, north-facing balcony, and I’m sure a few flowering things will make their way there. I imagine pulling up the odd weed when when visiting family, or being allowed to prune a little.

Lock up and leave is a good motto for down-sizers, but it probably doesn’t mean nothing growing at all. There’ll surely be someone in my life who’ll volunteer to splash a bit of water on my plants when we go away.

Old woman peering into other people’s gardens

You may soon notice an old woman wearing a battered hat which obviously belongs in a garden. She’ll be walking around Subiaco peering wistfully over fences into other people’s gardens. Treat her kindly. She’s probably harmless.


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12 replies on “Gardening life at an end”

  1. It must be a strange feeling, leaving your home and garden – both liberating and a bit sad all at once. I’m sure you’ll get used to not having to garden much very quickly, and find new uses for that time, like reading, walking, seeing plays, writing … the list goes on! And no aching back or knees 🙂
    Have a lovely Christmas Maureen!

    1. There will be so much to do, so many new things in my life next year, Fiona, that I don’t think I will miss my garden too much. The joy of a two bedroom apartment will be a bonus, too. Writing will be a big priority. I’ve let that go for a long time. Our apartment has a study area – which probably helped me fall in love with it so quickly.

      Thank you for your Christmas wishes. I hope you have a happy Christmas, too.

  2. This has made me very teary! Which I know was not it’s aim or intent…. but… it has all the same.
    So much of my childhood (and beyond) was spent exploring your gorgeous gardens.
    Attending gardening shows and open gardens also bought much joy. You have taught me so much.
    Let’s hope you want to come and continue to hang in my garden!!!

    1. I have loved sharing my gardens and enjoyment of all things gardening with you, Claire. Now I rejoice every time I pull up outside your house because your own garden is so lovely. And of course I want to hang out there with you and my great grandchildren.

      I don’t feel sad about my gardening, although a bit nostalgic. In fact, I’m really quite relieved I don’t need to weed any more. We can still go to garden shows. It has been a while since we did that.

    1. Thank you for you comment, Lily. I’m sure it will be OK to be garden free, even though I have loved gardening since I played as a child alongside my grandfather and my father in their gardens. Sometimes it’s all right to let something go as we age. There is still a lot left! I’m really lucky.

  3. I’m loving this blog just now Maureen … Rich and I were just talking tonight about how different our life is from 10 .. 20 … 30 … 40 years ago. We evolve. Things change. It’s not sad … just different. Vive la difference!! I’m certain you’ll embrace 2018 as the alternative future that we all have in front of us. I just love that you write about it. X

    1. Lovely to hear from you, Rachel. Love the idea of an ‘alternative future’. We are looking forward to a much easier lifestyle. Subiaco will suit us well, and I hope our apartment is as nice as I remember it. Settlement is on Friday, so not long to go.

  4. I’m sure you will miss your lovely garden. But you will have a little balcony garden, and enjoyment of others’ gardens, and perhaps even an indoor plant or two. I now have a small courtyard garden, taking shape as I write; I’ve not had to do any of the hard work but I’m in on the planting. We all need a little green around us, whether shared, borrowed or our responsibility.

    1. Such wisdom, Christina. Of course we need greenery, and it is easy enough to arrange in even a small space. I can’t imagine a home without indoor plants and something pretty to see from the windows. I can do that!

    1. Thanks Michelle. I am looking forward to my little garden on the balcony and not having the hard work of full-on gardening with painful joints. Hoping to write more, too.

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