An anniversary garden

It was our first anniversary in our house a couple of weeks ago and our 38th wedding anniversary this last week. Anniversaries are always cause for reflection.

We’ve lived a full year in our house and have come to know the creaks and groans of the floors, and the sound of the air conditioner and the hum of the dehumidifiers in the basement no longer catch me surprised when they kick in. They’ve become part of the sound of the house breathing. We’ve gotten to know which windows capture the evening breezes, and where my house plants love the light best. The kitchen, with its new cabinets and flashy black appliances, while attractive to me at first, have proven to be at the top of the list to be replaced at some distant future time. But we know where things are. Things are familiar. Things feel like home.

We’ve managed to take in stride the stress of moving twice in two years, and finding our way around our new state and our new jobs for the most part. We’ve been careful and intentional about our home improvements and projects, dealing with the issues revealed in our home inspection first. We’re here to stay and some things will be best if developed over time. Things like the kitchen, or the exterior landscaping, were put on the more distant schedule of things we’ll accomplish. There’s a plan.

About two months ago though, my husband started talking about having help with digging flower beds and removing shrubs, and bringing in proper soil. He started pointing out plant nurseries as we drove around, and telling me so and so recommended a particular tree farm, or so and so said this grows great here. I usually listened and reminded him we have a plan and I’m fine with waiting. It was a little interesting if not amusing that he was talking about this stuff since our yard and landscape haven’t been his thing—he’s the mower of the lawn usually, and that’s usually it. I’m the gardener.

One day I caught him talking to his friend about how much he’d like our yard to look like our yard back in San Antonio, back when I was a certified master gardener. That stunned me. It stunned me because it was immediately exhausting. How can he expect me to garden? I have a home business. I’m working and don’t have that kind of time. I’m older. I don’t feel good. I have Type 2 Diabetes now. I weigh more. My knees hurt. My hips hurt. I feel weak a lot. My medications say stay out of the sun. I don’t have good garden shoes anymore. I feel like I need to sleep more. I’m so exhausted I don’t even write much. It’s too soon. It’s not the plan.

So my husband talked to the guy that does the landscape maintenance at his plant. He brought home his phone number and said he was expecting my call. Then he asked me every day if I called yet. “No. I was busy today,” I’d say. “Can you call tomorrow?” he’d ask. I’d promise to call. Finally, after three months or so I called. He seemed nice enough. We scheduled a meeting but I explained I had a plan and this wasn’t it, that there were other things more important. He came over anyway. We talked options and ideas, and budget. I was sure he wouldn’t call back. I’d be fine if he didn’t. This just wasn’t the plan. Just talking about it exhausted me. He called back. I was going to let him down easy and put him off until next year, but something he said about not ever working with compost flipped over a brain cell. I think I actually felt a twinge in a very dark spot in my head.

New home, new state, who has the compost operation in the area, I wondered? And why doesn’t this guy know about compost? Someone should teach him about the benefits of compost. And, I wonder what the soil pH is in this area? It was 8.5 back in San Antonio. It must be lower here. My neighbors have Azaleas. I wonder what the house would look like without the overgrown yews out front? I took a minute to check the Internet for sources and extension service information and before I knew it several hours flew by. I made some calls and found a couple sources for compost and landscape materials then happened on a local company that removes trees and stumps. Still, this wasn’t the plan.

I was staring out the front window picturing where to put a row of peonies when my husband got home from work one day. I had walked the yard and done some drawings, even did plan a and plan b, and had a few future ideas in a list down the side of the worksheet. He sat down and listened to all my reasons for sticking with the plan, and our budget. Then he simply said, “I think it’s fine. We should get started.”

First thing, the local company I found came out and removed the overgrown shrubs. In two and a half hours what I spent a year ignoring, and weeks plotting and planning the if and but of, and shoving farther into the future, were gone. And, I felt a heavy veil lifting.

On our anniversary four piles of materials were delivered. Ironically, the 38th anniversary gifts are minerals, yes usually in jewelry form, but mine came in piles. They were beautiful to me! I posted a picture for my friends to see and one them said, “not just a bouquet, but bazillions of them.” That’s the truth and the miracle to me.

My husband of 38 years is giving me a garden, and so much more than a garden. I don’t have more words to explain what this means to me right now. I’m grateful and blessed by his love. I’m even more grateful to have answered prayer.

Photo: Front to back: Pile 1-Bluestone gravel 21A for side walk and drive area. Pile 2-White Pea gravel, for front porch inset area. Pile 3-Shredded hardwood mulch, for over flower beds. Pile 4-Landscape Mix, a perfect 7 pH, to replace native and builder’s grade topsoil.


Note: I think I realized I was in depression back in February. I’ve been in denial. I didn’t think it was showing either. I thought I was doing a good job of being “normal.” I’m aware depression can be a side effect of medication, and also of Type 2 Diabetes, and certain life events have the tendancy to stress. I need to know more and have an appointment scheduled with my endocrinologist.


About Robin Arnold

Reader, writer, gardener, geek, maker of homes in several states, now settled in Virginia with husband Bob, and Hazel and Wilson the tabby cats.
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2 Responses to An anniversary garden

  1. nance marie says:

    i really like this story.what a wonderful gift. it's a good thing that you have such a long driveway.i know what you mean by the depression. it doessneak up on a person.

  2. Robin says:

    Thank you Nancy.

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