May 26, 2014

You can't take it with you

Lately, we're discussing moving. Empty-nesters don't need a house this large.

It has me thinking ...

milkweed

What will the next homeowner/gardener do with the garden? Remove all the native plants? Remove the non-native plants?

robin

Will they cultivate the "wild" woodland garden?

echinacea

Will I take some plants with me?

mossflowers

If so, which ones?

foliage

What plants will I miss the most?

hops

Which sections of the garden will I miss?

cyclamen

Obviously, I can't take everything with me. But the container plants will travel well.

woodland

The woodland garden will be at the mercy of the next owner.

rose

I'll ask to take cuttings of my great-grandfather's Roses.

hellebore

Probably some Hellebores. And a few other favorite perennials.

rudbeckia

I know many of you have had similar experiences--some of you very recently. Some of you will move very soon.

It's a delicate situation, isn't it? Any advice for those of us just beginning to think about moving?

bloodroot

Right now, my heart is hurting a little thinking about it.

The good thing is, we won't be moving soon. We have too much work to do to get the house ready for sale. So I'll have a little time to think about this difficult transition ...

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On another note, I'm very tardy with thank-yous to two of my favorite garden bloggers.



Last fall, Donna at Garden Walk, Garden Talk randomly picked my name to win this nifty foldable, rollable, traveling bag. It came in very handy during my trip to London.



And then more recently, Donna at Garden's Eye View picked me randomly to win the book "Pollinators of Native Plants," by Heather Holm. Great book, and perfect timing as I'm researching native plants and the pollinators that visit them.









I rarely win things, so these events were very exciting. And I apologize to the two Donnas for my late public acknowledgment of their generous gifts.

Thank you, dear friends!

50 comments:

  1. It's a hard decision. I can't imagine how hard to leave our lovely garden. I hope you will make your best decision, and everything will be OK. Happy ending.

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    1. Yes, it will be tough. I know it will have to happen sometime. Maybe not this year, but we're starting to think about it anyway. It will be a great house (and garden) for the next family.

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  2. Contemplating a move and asking ones self. . . .What about my gardening plant friends. I/we are in a similar space . . . a huge decision. I wish you the best during this decision/preparation time.

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    1. Thanks, Lynne. It helps to know others experience the same thoughts and emotions. We're at a crossroads right now. We know we won't retire in this place, but we can't put it on the market now because we need to paint, re-do bathrooms, and replace some flooring. Maybe we have 1-5 years here yet. Time will tell...

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  3. I have been steadily digging up bulbs, slowly taking cuttings. Ultimately we'll tell the new people that 'all the pot plants go with us'
    It is hard.

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    1. I was thinking of you (and a few other gardening friends) while I was writing this post, Diana. As plants come to life and then go dormant during this time of year, the reality of our eventual move is starting to hit me. I'm just now allowing myself to acknowledge it.

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  4. We moved ten years ago, but I really wasn't into gardening much at the time, so that was the least of my regrets. Still, I dug up quite a few plants and moved them, most of which are still growing here. I didn't dig up some beautiful purple and white irises, though, and I've kicked myself ever since for that oversight.

    My best friend moved two years ago, however, and I helped her move some of her garden. Her new home has a much smaller space for a garden, so she had to be very selective in what she took. We dug up her favorite plants and those with sentimental attachment, and she gave away so many others to me and her nieces, who also helped. The hardest part for her has been driving by her old house and seeing some of the changes the new owners have made.

    It's good that you have plenty of time to think about this--how much you take with you will depend, no doubt, in part on the new owners and whether they want to keep up the garden. I'd definitely take anything that has special meaning to you or is hard to replace.

    I wonder sometimes what would happen to my garden if something happened to me. I've told my husband, don't mow it all down (which he might be apt to do!); instead call some of my MG friends and let them dig up anything they want. At least then, I'd know my favorite plants would find a good home.

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    1. Dear Rose: We must get together this summer, and I will bring you some purple and white Irises. My starts were from a friend, too. They sure do multiply! I'm not sure my garden will be much smaller, but the goal is to reduce house size (at least that's my goal). I still think nostalgically about my previous house and garden at times. Fortunately, with that one the "new" owners did a wonderful job and we still cross paths in town from time to time. I can only hope the same thing happens this time. I will definitely miss this garden more than the house. I've come to know the nooks and crannies, and the secret plants and mossy hollows. Thanks for your kind words and recommendations. Good idea to let friends come over and take some plants. We've shared throughout the years, but there's plenty more--plants that multiply and that I divide.

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  5. Oh Beth i am so sorry about these circumstances. I am not very good with goodbyes, and just reading your first few sentences made me so sad! Maybe we are a very sentimental people, that's why ancestral homes are very important for us, because all the memories are made there. It also serves as reunion place for all the household members who are already having families of their own in some other places. I have encountered a few blogger friends who moved, but because i've learned to know their gardens, i feel the sadness too.

    But these things really happen, so wherever you move to, my sentiments and prayers go with you. I hope there will still be a lovely area for gardening, and hopefully too the new owner of your original garden will tend it like you did. Oh sorry garden, your master will be on vacation! Best wishes.

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    1. Thanks for your kind words! I'm terrible with goodbyes of all types. For some reason, the thought of leaving this garden is more difficult for me than leaving the house. Maybe the house memories will hit me later, but the garden is almost a spiritual haven for me. It has been such an amazing gift and respite place for me, personally, during the past 14 years. But, ultimately, it's not mine and soon it will be time to entrust it with the next caretaker. I hope to have a nice, big garden at the next place, although I'm hoping the house will be smaller--with fewer rooms to clean. ;-)

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  6. You will be lucky to have your blog to look back on. Rose has a great idea. Share divisions and cuttings of your favorite and heirloom plants with friends and keep a list then if you want something later you can get it or at least visit it. Change is hard, but it is the only thing that you we count on for sure.

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    1. That's true, Becky. This garden inspired me in so many ways--including to start a blog. It's a beautiful spot and I will miss it greatly. I don't know if I'll be able to look back at the blog after I move--sometimes I'm like that with old photos of loved-ones, too. Sometimes it's too painful. The woodland plants are at Wisconsin state parks and natural areas, so as long as I can walk I can visit them. The garden "place" though, and the way it all works together, will be sorely missed. I need to remind myself to enjoy every moment we have together.

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  7. I like the words of the great playwright Tom Stoppard, who said, "Every exit is an entry somewhere else."

    I think Lee May has shown beautifully how a new home can offer the space to bring new garden visions to life.

    Gardening teaches us impermanence. One day we all will leave our gardens. Hopefully some part of those gardens will live on - through self-sowing annuals, through acorns dropped by an oak tree and buried willy-nilly hither and yon.

    As for which plants to take with you, it sounds like you have some ideas already on that topic...

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    1. True! Lee is my inspiration. Generally, transitions aren't difficult for me, but I've come to know this garden so intimately--it's kind of like a secret garden in the middle of a suburban neighborhood. Yes, I do have some ideas regarding the plants to carry on to the new place. I don't plan to downsize gardens, just house size a bit. Gardening is my relaxation. :)

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  8. Your post struck a chord. We've been in this home for twenty years and it is just starting to feel a bit much. A half acre of cultivated garden, a half acre of woodland. Those first twinges of "wow, these stairs get tiring by the end of the day" and "that back half acre of woodland garden is wonderful, but it still needs care to remain looking so naturally beautiful." I feel very powerfully that every change such as a move is another opportunity to gently release our hold on this world and evolve to our next chapter. I see it philosophically, as a way to grow. But the practical piece is tough. Even when I travel, it takes me about a half hour away from the sphere of my little piece of heaven in order to start looking forward and not backwards. So, I understand. Of course, I don't know the circumstances, but I have a feeling you are someone who will create beauty wherever you go. As for your garden, it retains all your energy and always will. If the new people are good people, they will let you take as much of it with you as seems right and appropriate for your next home. I sure wish you the best. Keep us in the loop as things change; now we are invested too in your lovely garden!

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    1. Hi Susie: Yes, the practical piece is tough. That's a great way to put it. The practical piece and its opposite--the emotional hold. Travel for me is fabulous and freeing. But leaving this place for good will be so difficult. Maybe it will be best to try to move in late summer or fall or winter. Springtime, well, I can't even think about it much. The circumstances are simply that our kids are grown up and we have too many rooms to clean. ;-) If I could reduce the house size and keep the garden ... but, no, soon it will be time for the next family to live here. They will be fortunate!

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  9. We live with the concept of "downsizing" any day. I find that it puts the focus on enjoying what we have here on a daily basis. At the same time, the gardener's mantra of "next year" is alive and well, so we keep planting and planning. I have been putting special plants in big pots more and more, so I can take them with me wherever we go. Liberation from a large property and its demands has a certain appeal: bittersweet, to be sure.

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    1. I'm trying to think of it that way, too, Ricki--the daily thankfulness. With my climate, the potted plants will have to be limited--until I know where I'll be going and when it will happen. Thanks for the encouragement and I will be thinking of you now, too, since we're at similar house/garden stages. I hope to have a big garden at the next place, but it will be different ...

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  10. No question our house is larger than we need, but giving up the surrounding garden just ain't gonna happen. Somebody can try to pry it out of our cold dead fingers. But as we are very conveniently situated, we keep the empty nest fuller by taking in "needy" students, particularly foreign students. Presently our gardens are our hobby and exercise program rolled into one, and what does one do when not outside gardening? Blog about gardening? Lastly most people downsize so they don't have so much yard/garden to take care of, and we up sized to get a much bigger yard/garden.

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    1. Ha! Good idea to house students--I could see doing that if we lived a little closer to campus. But it's a long bus, car, or bike ride into Madison. I agree--gardening is definitely my hobby and exercise regimen, too. I'm not looking to have a smaller garden, just a smaller house with fewer rooms to clean. It's perfect for a family of four or five. But I can only hope that family shares my passion for gardening and caring for a natural woodland lot.

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  11. Ha, I need advice on getting the husband to move! LOL. One not for change, it frustrates me that I may be stuck in the city for the remaining time left. Good luck on moving. I think if I sold, the new owners would remove the gardens for grass, just like every other neighbor has on their property.

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    1. I know, the dread of new owners digging up the natural woodland in back is my biggest fear, I think. It's home to so many native plants, animals, trees, lichens, insects, and other life forms. It would be sad to see it all developed. The area around the house would probably benefit from new owners, but the woodland garden is perfectly natural the way it is.

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  12. Sorry to hear about your news, Beth! I hope you are able to find a new home that you can be excited about, at least a little bit.

    We are in the midst of moving, though there is less loss because we still own the other house too (a rental). But it is still hard not to be there seeing every little change and mood of the garden. Thinking about the new gardens that I am trying to create really helps me not to grieve everyday... but even my children occasionally break out in tears because we had to leave Gilmore Gardens! Encouraging them helps me to bear it myself I think.

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    1. I know, Julie. I remember when you moved--how lucky that you can still visit the old house and garden as owners. Yet, you also have moved on. So you know the tug and melancholy of considering a new place and saying goodbye to a dear old one. Thanks for your words of encouragement. By the way, I apologize for being tardy with comments. Your blog is one of my favorites, but the feed doesn't appear to be showing up on my list. I will have to work on that... Enjoy your new garden!

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  13. If I can do it, you can too. First, I had to discover whether I had another garden in me, physically and emotionally. I did. I do. I believe you do too. The time between our decision and our sale was stunningly short – just a few months.

    At first I thought that was too fast. Now I believe the fast and furious change softened the grief of leaving the garden of a lifetime in Connecticut and coming to Georgia to build another garden of a lifetime.

    All the best,
    Lee

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    1. Lee: As I said to Aaron, you're my inspiration. I believe I have another garden in me--I just don't want to part with this one. :( The nice thing is, we're planning to stay in the area--so I won't have to say goodbye to all the plants that do so well here. Saying goodbye to this special garden, the little ecosystem, will be difficult. It will be a while, because we have so much work to do before we even put it on the market--not to mention being able to sell. But I have to start thinking about it, as much as I don't want to. Thanks for your kind words of encouragement.

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  14. Hopefully when you do move, it will be during the dormant season to make the transition easier on your plant treasures. And hopefully the new owners will be as devoted to nature and gardening as you are. This would make the transition much easier. Lovely photos, but my favorite is the first one with the pink milkweed. Love it!

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    1. That would make it easier, Grace! Thanks! That Swamp Milkweed is coming back again this year, so I'm very pleased. I haven't noticed any monarch eggs yet, though.

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  15. Moving house is a big upheaval and it takes much longer time to move in than to move out – I should know, I live in my 23rd house, counting from birth! That said, moving somewhere new can be a good thing too, new ways of doing things, getting rid of old things no longer in use, etc.
    I have thought about moving too – and eventually I will have to, when I no longer can manage the stairs in my house. I will feel more upset about leaving my garden than leaving my house, and I hope I will be well enough – and have time enough, to bring some of the garden with me to wherever I move to.

    With some good planning you can bring quite a lot of your garden with you as long as you have space enough where you end up. And if you stay in the area you’ll know that the plants will be happy in your new place too :-)

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    1. Wow--23 houses! I've lived in 12 (if you count dorms and apartments) since birth, and I thought that was a lot. I agree--it will be a good thing to get rid of a lot of our "stuff." This will probably be my most difficult move, because of all the memories here, because of all the "stuff" we've accumulated, and because I'll have to leave this garden behind. You're right though--since we're planning to stay in the area, we'll have a good idea of which plants are happy in this part of the state.

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  16. I hate to think of you moving but it is probably best to get used to the idea if that's the reality. I would dig up the whole rose!

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    1. Yes, I should have said a few of the Rose plants, instead of cuttings. It's an old-fashioned shrub Rose, so it spreads quite a bit. It won't be difficult to lift some of the shrubs, and leave plenty for the next people. :-) We won't be moving for at least a year (in all probability, it will be a few years). But the plan is to move to a smaller house (same size garden would be fine) on the lake.

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  17. Goodness, that will be a wrench, at least you have lots of wonderful photos of your current garden, particularly that wonderful woodland. As someone who has recently done this, I would say, never mind cuttings, lift and take all the plants you love most that you know you will be able to grow in your new conditions. I left quite a few much loved plants because I wanted the garden to carry on looking good, but I find I regret that now. Even though it is family who have taken over the garden, circumstances have meant that the promised cuttings and divisions have not been forthcoming. Take with you what you can't envisage being without if it is something you can't easily grow from seed or cuttings, or buy cheaply. And take anything that has sentimental value. You are a skilled gardener, you will be able to fill any gaps this leaves with annuals or divisions, but at least then you know you won't be sitting in your new garden wishing you had brought X or Y plant with you...

    Having said all that, I have loved - am loving! - developing a new garden, and have made a conscious attempt to not reproduce past plantings even where I have similar conditions. The joy of starting over is being able to try new things, new combinations. It is truly invigorating. I wish you well - in the preparation, the process, and in your new location, wherever that is.

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    1. Good idea to fill in areas with annuals and divisions. It will be a little tricky--depending on the time of year we move. Given my terrible luck with outdoor potted plants, hopefully I'll have a chance to move a few plants during the season. We hope to stay in the area, so we know the soil, the climate, and the native plants that like it here. That said, every garden is different, which will make it exciting when it happens. :)

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  18. O you are going to move and are you starting a new garden? So difficult to say goodbye to your old garden and all the plants, I could not think of it. But a fresh start with new ideas is also very tempting. Anyway as I read it will take some time so you can think it over again and again,.

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    1. Yes, fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it) we won't be able to move for a while. I'm just trying to get used to the idea and avoiding spending too much more money on new perennials. I hope this next move will be my last "house," and that I can settle in for a good long while.

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  19. i could not think of moving from my garden. I guess it is a new adventure though. Best of luck.

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    1. I couldn't think of it until recently, either. But with our other property, I have 6 bathrooms to clean, which is getting to be a bit much for two people. Long story, but we're hoping to sell both properties and buy a smaller house on a local lake. We'll see, but that's the dream. :)

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  20. Yes it's a big step to consider moving, and a lot of work,new adventures, new vistas.

    Make sure to make a list of the plants you want to take with you, I never did that, and now regret giving away so very many of them. But I can always replace them lol..

    Jen

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    1. Good idea, Jen. I'll start the list right away! Even if we don't move for a while, that will help me to keep it all organized, and help with the emotional pull.

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  21. We are 'considering' moving too. And I have all the same thoughts and hesitations, but it will happen within the next year or so and I am Hoping I can take some things with me to a smaller garden.

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    1. Good luck! We'll have to share notes as we travel this similar journey. I'm not necessarily looking for a smaller garden, but definitely a smaller house!

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  22. My husband suggested we move to a smaller house and I told him to go ahead and pack his bags. I might visit but I might not. My house is way too large for two people and 4 dogs but I'm not going anywhere. I like knowing I have room for my kids and their future families to come home and visit and that if I want to host a party or garden get-together, there's plenty of room. I love my husband but I need my elbow room. Being trapped in a little box of a house with him will end badly. But I know many people enjoy a change when their kids leave. I've moved 17 times. I'm done!!

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    1. Yes, I can see that point, Tammy. I think our biggest issue is that we have this property plus the cottage. So it's upkeep on two homes (and 6 bathrooms to clean). We could simply sell the cottage, but then we would miss the lake. So, the ultimate goal is to sell both properties and buy a smaller house (but with a decent-sized garden) on one of our local lakes. But we'll see ...

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  23. Oh wow, I didn't know you were considering moving! Will you stay in Wisconsin? In all our moves leaving "my" garden was always harder than leaving our house. I've gone back to look at some of our former homes and was sad to see that the new homeowners weren't "garden" people. I hope you find someone that will continue your passion for gardening! We are still in the child rearing years but I think we are staying in this house even though it will be far too big for two people and dogs. I am of the same mindset as Tammy, we've moved so many times I'm staying put.

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    1. Yes, we hope to stay in the Madison area. We love it here, eight months out of the year. ;-) I really don't think it will be hard to leave the house because I don't enjoy cleaning. But leaving the garden will be so tough!! I will miss it every day until I get used to a new garden.

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  24. You are very welcome my friend. Are you staying in Wisconsin? If so take everything you can and put them all in containers...I wish I had done this as the new owners dismantled and threw out the entire garden. I won't be moving I hope for 20 years as my garden needs me to reclaim it from the weeds and it may take me that long.

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    1. Yes, we want to stay in Wisconsin, and actually in the Madison area. So, the native plants, the soil, the climate, the local parks, etc., will all be the same. :) The only thing holding me back from being excited about the idea is the garden out my back windows. It's really a wonderful, natural "secret" garden.

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  25. Beth, I just moved last week, which is why it's taken a while to comment on this post. It was indeed hard to leave the garden, and while the new owners are young and eager, I have no idea what will become of my beloved plants. Having said that, it is exciting to have a new garden challenge ahead of me. I think you'll find the inevitable mixture of regret and excitement when you move, too.

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    1. Sarah: Congrats on your move! I'm just getting back to finishing up responses to recent posts. Thanks for your encouragement! I guess that's what I expect--a mix of regret and excitement. But preparing my mind and emotions for the change down the road, hopefully, will help me deal with it when if happens. Best wishes as you continue to get to know your new garden!

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