Lee Valley Tools    Gardening Newsletter
   Vol. 6, Issue 5
   October 2011
   Time to Say Goodbye

  The author
  The author sitting in her ornamental-grass garden.
Ever 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.

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 abandon.

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