Back to the Garden

One of my first blogs, two years ago, was about my flowerbeds. I’ve decided to revisit them for two reasons: 1) I don’t have much of anything else to write about at the moment and 2) I am getting so much enjoyment out of them this summer.

Right now my writing “career,” as inconsequential as it has been, seems to have ground to a halt. I had signed a contract for a book with Ingalls Publishing, the traditional small press with whom I worked during the first decade of this century, but the owner of the company died in March and his wife has decided to shut the business down. They’ll finish the couple of books they have in the pipeline. Mine isn’t one of them.

So, for the first time since 2001, I don’t have a book under contract. I’m writing one, but I have no idea if it will ever see the light of publication. And I’ve got to deal with getting rights to my earlier books and deciding what to do with them—probably republishing them in some electronic format. I’ll be 70 in September, still teaching fulltime and am something of a technophobe (or maybe technodolt), so this all feels overwhelming.

That’s where my flowerbeds come in. As I explained in an earlier post, I own two houses next door to one another. I live in one and rent the other (to my daughter and her family right now). The two houses sit on what was originally one inner-city lot that was divided about 1925, before anyone had to deal with bothersome things such as codes and minimum sizes. The lots are small and heavily shaded.

benchSix or seven years ago I started laying out the first flowerbed, emphasizing shade-tolerant perennials. I’ve never been a gardener, but I discovered how much I enjoy the work—and the results. I often finish my breakfast coffee sitting on the bench (inherited from my parents) in that first bed. Given my current state of melancholy, I sometimes return to the bench during the day.

In the last two years I’ve expanded into every other available spot around both houses, to the point that I don’t have any more space to plant anything. My wife and I have a little routine we call “walking the estate.” Usually after supper, we stroll around to the various beds and see what’s blooming, what needs to be dead-headed, etc. She likes to cut and arrange some of the flowers, and I have planted some showy ones in the few sunny spots that I have, just for that purpose.

Now, I’m going to follow some age-old advice: show, don’t tell. Enjoy the pictures.

my favorite clematis

my favorite clematis


a neighbor contributed the frisbee

a neighbor contributed the frisbee


impatiens along the driveway

impatiens along the driveway


in my newest bed

in my newest bed


5 Responses

  1. Beautiful flowers, Albert, especially the clematis. As Voltaire said (as Candide) when life brought him low: “Go cultivate your garden.” And so you have. (And so have I–or trying, despite the deer ticks that have invaded Vermont of late.) And yes, bring the books back electronically. I’ve done so with mine, and a few coins dribble in now an again.

  2. Lovely garden. I should do the same with our horribly shaded lawn.

  3. Gardening is good for the soul. I get such pleasure out of picking and eating the raspberries and blueberries I grow. Second the motion about bringing the books back electronically. Every little bit helps.

  4. I love the photos, but also the “walking the estate” detail you share here. It’s lovely to picture that calm togetherness at the close of the day…

  5. Thanks to all for the comments. We had a huge storm here after lunch. The rain is great, but I’m going home now to see if any damage has been done.

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