since I can remember, I've had difficulty saying farewell to
people, objects and places, particularly places which I really
loved, such as my "late" garden.
The author sitting in her ornamental-grass garden.
My beloved garden was located close to the Rideau River in
Ottawa, Ontario. In terms of plant-hardiness zones, it was
in 5A, a climate that presented gardening challenges and a
short growing season. However, after spending over a decade
in Ottawa, I got used to long, snowy and often very cold winters
and hot, humid and sometimes bone-dry summers. I tried to
enjoy the abrupt springs and really loved the colorful autumns.
However, the climate was not as challenging as the garden
itself. It was relatively large by my present standards, at
almost a half an acre. Part of it was covered by a spacious,
newly renovated and extended bungalow, but the area around
it was a disaster. Instead of a lawn, there was a colorful,
fragrant meadow densely dotted with discarded building materials.
After an extensive clean-up using a rented bobcat, which included
removing the left-over pieces of driveway asphalt from our
backyard, the battle began against some green invaders, including
a dozen mature Manitoba maples (Acer negundo), bunches
of staghorn sumacs (Rhus typhina), countless blackberry
bushes (Rubus), as well as seedlings of Norway maple
(Acer platanoides). The next 10 years were spent fighting
with groundhogs and squirrels, weeding endlessly and constantly
amending the pure-clay soil. The spacious lawn that was eventually
planted decreased annually to make space for new beds. My
perfect garden gradually came to life.
Disaster struck suddenly. With no warning, my husband's career
necessitated relocation to Vancouver, British Columbia, which
seemed a million light years away from Ottawa. Everyone involved
was overjoyed, and I was the only one in despair. I was definitely
not ready to move anywhere. It wasn't the house that made
me want to stay in Ottawa, but my garden, which I obviously
couldn't take with me and which I definitely didn't want to