It was four years ago this month that we found this house and land. After a long summer filled with all that fun and mostly not-so-fun house-buying drama, it was finally ours in the fall of that year. There was no time then to pay attention to the gardens, as our days were filled with the rushed work of moving and renovating the house. I'd been given the advice to let the perennial gardens sit untouched for a year, to see a full season cycle through before making any changes. And that's just what I did that following spring and summer - there was no time to do anything differently had I even wanted to. We were busy with hip surgery and a new baby and readying the pasture for all the critters that were scheduled to arrive. The flower gardens had to wait. But I watched, observed, tried to take some notes here and there about what came up where, and noticed. Noticed the things I liked, the things I didn't and (an even greater percentage) the things I didn't know at all.
Vegetables, berry bushes, fruit trees even - seemed practical, easy and safe to dive into planting right away. A vegetable garden can move easily from one year to the next. Berry bushes aren't forever, and the home for all the fruit trees seemed obvious. But I've been so much slower in getting to the perennial garden beds. Both those that were here before me - long established - and those that I wanted to create elsewhere around our land. Hesitant to commit before really knowing the land, reluctant to undo the work that was done before us, and uncertain about what I even wanted.
But this year, this month of May, I'm finding a comfort with those corners that I've previously left untouched. Partly because the structural work to be done elsewhere on our property is under control (don't let Steve hear that - he'll pull me back to fence repair faster than I can find a shovel!). Partly because I've seen a few seasons come and go, and have a better sense of what grows where. And mostly because I am finding some comfort with these kinds of plants I know so little about, and my footing with this land that I know more with each passing season. Hostas, I have finally admitted, I do not love. There is a place for them, but only in small bits and only in certain places. And so I pull some now, without hesitation or guilt. The bee balm that I've been scattering for three seasons now has finally taken hold and lives a little bit everywhere around here - pleasing me more than what was there before. The lavender I've added more of each year now make a whole pathway instead of just a single plant. My magnolia grows outside my studio window and waits for its pair to arrive, a spot already chosen for it. The peonies tucked here and there are doing well, the forsythia tamed, the old and new lilacs thriving. The tansy grows by my kitchen door. I know just where I want to put the weeping cherry now. The lily of valley is spreading. And on and on.
The house, the pasture, the vegetable garden, the growing orchard - they all feel quite reflective of us and our hopes here. But it is just now that I feel I am beginning to see that in our perennial beds too, in some of these plants and trees that will likely be here long after I am. It feels like the beginning, really, of what I hope will be a life long affair. We're still getting to know each other, these gardens and I, but oh...it's a slow dance I am loving.