All That You Can’t Leave Behind

Well, the big move happened just over three weeks ago. We just got our internet connection at the new house five days ago. I managed to have a moment to sit down, a few minutes ago.

It’s been a roller coaster of stress, strain, delight, shock, despair, happiness, contentment and above all, realisation. Realisation of just how much work there is to do on the house in terms of countless little repairs and major additions. A realisation of just how much work there is to do in the garden. Apart from a few trees and shrubs, it is a blank canvas, a very big blank canvas.

Before I show you the new garden (in a new post), it was with no small amount of sadness that I had to leave the old one behind. I do have lots and lots of pictures, but no amount of them is going to recreate the wonderful intimate personal paradise I had managed to make for myself in five years.

On the very last day, which was miserable and wet, I just had time to take a few shaky shots of the garden.

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It really was a miserable day and the garden looks miserable too. If you’re familiar with my garden, you’ll notice the two large rose arches and their associated roses are missing from the picture. They’re here with us now, the roses heeled unceremoniously into holey buckets and the arches laying on the new patio, waiting patiently for my attention. Unfortunately, the daffodils couldn’t come with us and we have only a small handful – probably less than ten – of them here. That will change in good time.

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The larger shrubs have remained too, including my favourites such as the skimmia and the spirea, which put on spectacular spring shows. They are too large and established to uproot and it wouldn’t be easy transporting shrubs of that size. It wouldn’t be kind on the new owners too to leave great big blank spaces of soil where plants once were. Hopefully they’ll discover how beautiful those shrubs are, even if they do look like bunches of dead twigs in the winter.

WP_20140228_10_45_26_Pro Several of the plants in the garden were lifted or divided and have come with us. As they were uprooted and temporarily put into pots, they were staged here on the patio. You can still see the rings of soil where the pots once stood. The little plastic greenhouse and other staging has also made the move but the green wall of maturing black bamboo has remained and will hopefully continue to provide a calm green rustling oasis for the new owners.

WP_20140228_10_45_35_Pro A wonderful specimen acer (bright red stems) also had to remain, as well as the ornamental current and choisya, being too large and established to move. The bird feeders have also remained and we hope the new owners will continue to provide the birds that flock to the garden with both food and water.

WP_20140228_11_23_00_ProThis was an incredibly warm and inviting home with an equally beautiful and abundant garden. The patio doors in the background once had the table and pair of chairs that you can see in the header image at the top of the page. I spent a great deal of time sitting there looking out at the garden and imagining new borders, plants and schemes for the season. Interestingly, the new house also has a set of patio doors that similarly look out onto the garden. While almost everything has changed, there are some habits that will continue.

As I close the chapter on this part of our lives, it is now for the new owners to make what they will of their new home and their new garden, just as it is for us to make a new home and new garden where we are now.

8 Comments


  1. How very sad and very beautiful. Gardens can become tremendously personal, and it can feel like you are leaving a large part of yourself behind. At first I was disappointed not to see a photo of the new place here, but now I’m glad you gave yourself the chance to say goodbye and gave us the chance to do the same. We all know what winter gardens look like and can see beyond the sticks and mud to what it was and will be again. Lovely post.

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    1. Hello Emily, thank you, after having some time to settle into the new house and garden, I am beginning to think of the old place less and less but certain plants, shrubs and trees suddenly transport me back there as they trigger old memories. I guess I just need to make new ones.

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  2. Sunil – Love to you and yours in your new house (which will become a home) and your new garden which I can’t wait to see…… You’ll remember the old garden, but you will have so much joy dealing with the new one.
    Mrs Mac.

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    1. Hi Mrs Mac, thank you, I’m finding it’s joy and frustration in equal measures at the moment as I try to tame the (many) wild parts of the garden (even just to get access) and start setting up compost piles, rubbish piles, soil piles, greenhouses, staging, pot plants and so on. It’s two steps forward and one back but it’s all going in the right direction and as it warms up, it will only get better.

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  3. I’ve had to leave gardens before, too, but never one I had tended for 5 years. This must be hard but it will be exciting creating a new garden, too, especially now that you have more space.

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    1. Hi Tammy, five years seems like both a long and a short time. I know people who have had their garden for thirty years or more and it shows so five is hardly any time at all from that perspective. It is exciting to have such a large space, but it is also daunting too. At the moment I am paring back and reclaiming the over grown parts, just like I did with the previous garden when I started out so there’s a familiar feeling about all of this. It’s just that the scale is much bigger!

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  4. Sunil, We are about to embark on the same journey so I can appreciate all that you have experienced. I have left gardens in Manhattan, Westchester COunty, my most beloved here in this town, and now, yet another is about to be left. But I can tell you from experience, that you will enjoy making a NEW garden as much as you mourn your last one! You now have more experience and your new ideas will explode!

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    1. Hello Jayne, I wish you well with your move and hope you’re able to bring many of your favourite plants along with you. I have thrown myself into the process of creating a new garden at the new house and my head sometimes overflows with ideas of how I want borders, paths, structures, plants and schemes but I have to hold myself back because I need to sort out the basics first such as clearing, tidying and repairing (sheds and greenhouses) etc so the creativity will have to wait a bit longer before it can be fully unleashed.

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