The past two weeks at Butterfield has been spent getting things sorted out in the garden. We arrived just as spring transitioned to summer and there was a lot to catch up on–weeding, mulching, planting, weeding, harvesting, watering, weeding, mowing, weeding….
We got the last of the main season crops planted last week, just in time for the summer weather. And while I find a lot of satisfaction in having gotten the job done, it’s never very satisfying to photograph (or to look at photographs) of a newly planted garden.
So this week I’m sharing photos of a neighbor’s garden. We took a field trip last week to visit their goldfish pond and see the waterlilies.
After a long day of pulling weeds and planting starts in a bare vegetable plot, it was refreshing to spend an hour in a peaceful garden that has been lovingly tended for decades.
As I looked around at the blooming lilies, the rustic urns, the bubbling fountain, the well-planned potager, the trellised wisteria, I felt as if I’d stepped onto the grounds of Beverley Nichols’ post-war English garden at Merry Hall (someone else out there loves these books as much as I do, right??).
There’s a comfortable feeling that comes with working a piece of land over many years, of knowing a plot of dirt so well that you know exactly which corner stays wet the longest, which bed has the most shade, and which wall gives the best wind protection. I knew every corner of our tiny plot at Meadowlawn. It’s this familiarity that I miss the most–in the garden and in life in general. Relocating a family is full of newness, which is equal parts exhilaration and exhaustion.
As much as I long to have those deep roots and abiding knowledge of place, I’m reminded that in life, like in the garden, these things don’t happen overnight, or in a week, or even in one growing season. They take time. Gardeners have a saying when referring to newly transplanted plants: “Sleep, creep, leap”. They mean that the first season a plant will appear to “sleep” and not really put on much growth at all as it deals with the stress of being transplanted and gets comfortable in its new surroundings. The second season it will begin to “creep” and put down some tentative roots and a little bit of growth. The third season, “leap” is when it really takes off and begins to settle in and bloom and grow.
Perhaps this same philosophy applies when transplanting people? There is so much about the process of putting down roots and growing shoots that informs the actual relationship between a person and a place. Whether it’s tomatoes or oak trees or children there’s no way around it…these things just take time.
I’m so thankful that we have neighbors who invite us over to share in their bounty, while we spend the season investing in the future of our own.