Love and Loss in the Garden - Welcome to Cottage in the Court

Love and Loss in the Garden - Welcome to Cottage in the Court

Just like life, at some point we suffer from the loss of something we love. In the garden, we learn this from the unexpected loss of a plant, shrub, or even a cherished tree. As the garden evolves, there are some things which we must accept and release.

The cottage came with a majestic red oak tree. It was a presence that anchored the front yard, provided nutrients for wildlife and offered a buffer from the sun for my partial shade garden. My dear friend has been removed. You have no idea of how hard it is to write that sentence. The tree gave me a sense of security and semi-privacy. It brought me joy, as I collected the leaves each fall to decorate my table. Love meant caring for the tree. I called in arborists to look at the branches, the roots and more. Maintaining the health of my dear friend was important.

The leaves hung on into January each year. This provided a blanket for the plants and beneficial insects in my garden. The joy I found as I gently moved leaves away from the crown of plants, only to see a bug or a worm hurrying to go deeper to escape the chill of winter. Just to be sure, I would find myself adding a few more leaves, just to be sure these overwintering guests were safe and sound.

Everyone does not appreciate leaves or large aging tree. Some view leaves as a nuisance or more more thing to do in the fall. If a twig fell, some neighbors would suggest I cut my tree down. Yet every spring it would flush out in leaf. The canopy offered a bit of shade in the heat of the day. My red oak knew my garden needed refuge from the strong sun. Mother nature is a good mother. Mother nature has a way of taking care of her trees. She teaches them to self-clean…and they obey.

To keep the peace, I had branches trimmed that overhung my property line. This disfigured the tree. Many tree care professionals advised against this. In my efforts to be a good neighbor, the tree began to show signs of distress. One day, my beautiful friend had enough. Upon returning home, a large chunk was on my walkway. The time had come – unexpectedly for me to say good-bye. Making the call to find someone who could take care of the process was not easy. Today I look at the five foot, eight inch stump. Working around it is not a possibility. This breaks my heart.

My Dad would say, “Teres, joy comes in the morning.” I was not home on purpose to see the removal of my friend. I did not want to face this loss in person, waiting for the morning was going to be difficult. As Dad promised, I took a good look one day at the crack of dawn to accept the reality of my new full sun garden.

Change is inevitable in life, just as in the garden. The hydrangeas, rescued from my parents garden will require a new home. The perennials, Phlox sublata, Epimedium, Hellebore, native ferns, and Astible will require a sheltered area. Reimagining the space will evolve over time and in tune with the seasons. The calming effect each plant had in this space as it led to the side shade garden is no more.

Love and loss in the garden is inevitable. Reimagining the possibilities of a full sun border has slowly dried my tears. A row of narrow evergreen shrubbery will serve as a buffer. It will add privacy and a living hug for the plants included in the transformation. Integrating native plants with the perennials in a full sun setting, is something t consider. A pollinator garden that will feed any of nature’s willing workers from birds, to bees, and moths. Dreaming of including a cut flower garden with dahlia’s, sunflowers and cosmos is beginning to make me smile.

Life teaches us that things change. It does not matter if we want them to or not. It is time for me to release my friend, make the call for the stump and move on. I want to save the remains from the stump and incorporate them in my garden . Along the pathways, in my hügelkultur space, anywhere I can. It is my way of keeping my friend around a little longer and returning her to the earth, my way.

Sitting here looking at my garden in a new light.

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