We've been here 12 years, but most of the tree planting and garden creating started about 9 and 10 years ago, with major additions 5 years ago.
One visitor asked "when did it first seem right to you? When did you first like what it evolved into?" The question hit a mark with me, because for the first years I did not like this garden and it did not feel right. It was a work in progress and I enjoyed the process immensely, but I did not feel at home in this space.
It wasn't always so. The difference in the last two years has been that many things have matured. When the entire garden is started from nothing in a span of just a few years, it looks and feels universally raw for a long time. Everything is developing at the same time, not just a few areas.
Now, after 10 years, I have losses and changes and new plants going in all the time, but the bones of the place look settled. I have shade to sit in -- not a high forest canopy yet, but enough shade. The road behind us is well screened. The patio and front walk are both finally redesigned and look so much better with the rest of the garden. The built edges of the gravel area and other garden constructions are now filled in and softened with bigger plants.
I've matured too. I've settled on the furniture that works, after years of rotating items around. I've learned the rhythms of the seasons and the idiosyncrasies of the micro climates here, so I am more relaxed about what I can do. I know more about plants in general. After so many years we've found a way to make peace with the chaos around us (mowing paths into the wild meadow helped) and how to control the wildlife and how to shrug off each year's problems. They aren't such catastrophes any more.
I want to be careful to assess whether I picture leaving this garden for the logical reasons (proximity to future grandchildren, lower taxes, serious downsizing, making a move while we still physically can and not when it's a crisis) or whether I picture leaving here because this summer was so awful.
I have to admit I feel disillusioned this year. It was so dry, it was a lot of work just to keep things alive and they don't even look good. Winters are always long and difficult here, but adding a long and difficult summer made me sort of give up. I feel like I could be done with all of this. A condo with a stone courtyard in a dry climate seems just about perfect to me right now.
But if next spring is lovely and my plants respond, and I'm feeling the pleasure of a settled place here, will it then be too hard to think of leaving? I wish I knew.
I'll miss seeing my little trees grow, I know that. A couple were new this year and aren't more than a few twigs and leaves. I want to be here to see them grow and to see the older trees get big and shady. That's going to be the hardest thing about leaving. . . my trees.
The rest of it, especially all the work of a big lawn-and-borders garden, I could leave. Particularly if I don't try to replicate what I am leaving. I'd be moving to a small place, a different climate, a new aesthetic, a whole different view of the landscape. It would be a clean and total break. I could do that.
I could do that for sure.