Just One More Adventure: Moth to a Flame Gardeners Grabbed by Life-Altering Events

Just One More Adventure: Moth to a Flame

Gardeners Grabbed by Life-Altering Events

 

First hellebore to bloom each winter.

 

Like a Moth to a Flame

Some may call it an addiction, an obsession, my need for my garden as perhaps a codependent relationship. Being the romantic that I am, I prefer to picture a moth fluttering about a flame. I know I could get burned, perhaps singed at best, but still I do the dance. Here I go doing it one more time. Weather permitting I leave my oxygen bottle at the door and head up into the garden. Not following the doctor’s orders to always be connected to oxygen is the part that could, at some point, singe my wings. But, for now, that part is just head knowledge. The romantic notions only fade when and if my fluttering flight brings consequences.

 

Just too Good

But, for today I fly. April weather arrived here in February, so how can any gardener not get out into their garden? To me, the thought is unimaginable. The weather is just too good to be trapped inside anywhere for any reason. The trip up into the garden is, after all, a dose of what cures winter’s cabin fever. There is sunshine, fresh air, exercise, a cleansing of a dehydrated soul. Soil to get under fingernails upping serotonin levels of happiness. The time in my garden should be a part of a prescription.

 

Just Do Something

My intention was to simply take a walk through the garden. I walked through the entrance into my other world and immediately succumbed to weeding. The urge was a siren call so strong it took me to my knees. My fingers itched to touch the chickweed encroaching upon primula working to form buds. The soil was so perfect for weeding that it had to be a “Sign”. One small patch of green trouble led to the next drift forming higher up the path. I finally came to from my trance mid-garden, standing in the middle of a path with seedlings of chrome-yellow winter aconite. Think it was the change of color from weedy green to bright yellow that awakened me.

 

Awake Now

Now that I awoke from my trance, I realized if I did not stop weeding I would never get through my garden. There was things I wanted to do besides weed. The weeds would more than likely still be there next time I responded to the siren call.

 

Every foot of the paths needed me to walk their length. I felt the desire to oversee all of the garden, to reestablish my relationship, to become one with the soul of the garden and let it help to heal me. The outside world went away leaving only my garden and I in a world where only we existed.

 

We shared the sound of the wind chimes, the call of the winter wren, and sigh of the wind through the pines. The first redwing blackbird of the new season advertised its return. Pausing to sit on the big rock at the cave entrance, the quiet peaceful noises turned to silence. I could hear silence.

 

I believe the time in my garden was oxygen for my soul.

 

Just One More Adventure: A Gardeners Gotta Do Gardeners Grabbed by Life-Altering Events

Just One More Adventure: A Gardeners Gotta Do

Gardeners Grabbed by Life-Altering Events

 

“Black” Lenten Rose (Hellebore x garden hybrid) opening.

Early Arrival

Standing inside with my nose pressed to the glass, yearning for winter to end, I got my wish. The clouds and gloom of February have parted to reveal record breaking warm temperatures. The most yo-yo of all late winters I can remember. It will be almost seventy percent for afternoon temps, but day after tomorrow it will be freezing with snow showers. With recent warm rains, the soil is saturated and the late winter perennials and bulbs can no longer hold back. Well, no longer can a gardener. I have to get out there in my garden.

 

What a Gardeners Gotta Do

I see signs of leaf litter forming little domes from being pushed upward by early emerging plants. In some places they have broken through and are showing the color of buds and/or blooms. In one location the Snowdrops (Galanthus) will be small tuffs of green with leaf mulch residing like a roof at the tips of the leaves. In other locations the snowdrops are in full bloom. The garden hybrid hellebores mostly have large plump buds with colors of almost black to dusty rose and yellow, framed by fresh new foliage. Adonis have punched through with heads of chrome yellow, ferny foliage following. Now I ask you. How can a gardener not go admire the beauties braving the late winter weather?

 

Breaking Out

Feeling like I had been confined long enough I make a break for it. I disconnected from the Noisy- Monster-in-the-Corner (oxygenator), picked up my camera with tripod, notebook and kneeling pad and headed for the garden. Bert the Oxygen bottle did not get to make the trip with me either. I went unfettered from hoses and constraints. I was free!

I headed up the hill to greet my awakening children, ready to take casual portraits of their sleepy faces. We spent an hour together with me walking up and down, across the hillside, kneeling to set up my camera and get the best shot, then up and moving on to the next location. It was an annual greeting ritual I had performed for many years and we all knew how to play our parts. There is a great comfort in rituals.

 

Consequences of Gardeners Doing

After having greeted all my children to begin a new year, I headed back down the hill. On the way to the house I stopped at my car and picked up a little gizmo that you can stick on the end of a finger and get a reading of oxygen levels in the blood and heartbeats per minute. Whoops! Turns out there was consequences for my behavior. My heart rate was up to where it would be if I were jogging up the hill rather than casually walking. Oxygen levels had dropped fourteen points. My legs and hips were exhausted and I was becoming lightheaded. Came back inside, hooked up to the Noisy-Monster-in-the-corner-of-the-room, and watched my oxygen levels get back to normal, my heart rate to settle down. Decided it was a most excellent time to take a nap.

There may have been consequences for my actions, but I gladly paid the price for my freedom to be with my children.

 

Sometimes a gardener does what a gardens gotta to do.

 

Just One More Adventure: Lightening Strikes Gardeners Grabbed by Life-Altering Events

Just One More Adventure: Lightening Strikes

Gardeners Grabbed by Life-Altering Events

Yellow hellebore bud opening. First of the winter blooms

 

Lightening From a Clear–Blue Sky

I keep returning to the afternoon I checked out from the hospital. I had been disconnected from the IV, dressed and sitting on the edge of the bed waiting for dismissal when lightning struck. Clear blue sky outside, totally unexpected. I was informed that before I could go home I required oxygen to leave. Oxygen would also be delivered to my home while I was on the way. I was receiving oxygen while in bed, but did not give it much thought, and no one made an issue of it. I was not connected to oxygen sitting on the edge of the bed. My wife looked at me and I looked at her. So. What the hay was going on?

 

Ask and You Will Receive

I did inquire with the rep that showed up for the company that would be supplying my needs. I was informed that Medicare would not pay for my hospital stay if I did not sign the forms for oxygen and connect before leaving. That was not what I asked. I wanted to know the why and she told me how I would. I was shown the end that went into my nose, the bottle on wheels it was connected to, and shown the setting for how much oxygen I would be breathing; twenty-fours a day, seven days a week, fifty-two weeks a year.

 

Thanks

I do need to say that I am thankful for all the medical machinery available to help me function another day. To live longer. That is something I know with my head, but then there is also what goes on behind my bellybutton.

 

The Monster

I have told part of the story on how I met Bert the Oxygen Bottle before and will return again to continue the tale. The Bert was to be my traveling companion. My day-to-day companion, in-house-never-to-leave would be an off-white machine resembling a dehumidifier, only more noisy.

The new monster that ruled my movements in my own home took up residence in the dining room which was most central to our home. With a hose connected to the machine and the other end looped around my ears and nose it became the center of my everyday life. No movement could be made without dragging the hose from one room to the next, or picking it up as I reversed. If I wanted to be outside on the porch I had to switch to Bert, or move the Monster. I will not bore you with tales of continually stepping on the hose, my cat believing it was a snake to be pounced and bitten, catching the hose beneath a chair or table leg doing my best to give up an ear.

 

Isolation

To have some fun of your own tie a 40 foot string to a chair leg and the other end to your finger. Now navigate your own home and all that you would normally do in a day.

I tell you of my day to day oxygen therapy not looking for sympathy, but to share the experience and what can be the results not just for me, but for other gardeners as well. First comes the frustration. Then creeps in the sense of isolation, often followed by depression. It is as if one shoe is nailed to the floor of the world and I am forced to move in tight little circles while all is flowing around and past me. I are no longer a part of anyone’s world but my own. Isolated is a cold, hard shelled word. There are times with I stand at the window, nose pressed to the glass, and watch my wife leave for work, see the gloomy skies over my garden, and feel a loss that leads to depression. I know that I can feel isolated, but I also know I am never truly alone, for I have all my gardening friends I can tell my story to, email and call.

It is February now and the first of the winter blooming flowers are making an appearance. Even with Bert and the Monster as companions, I can see spring coming.

Just One More Adventure: Crying Over Spilled Milk

Just One More Adventure: Crying Over Spilled Milk

Gardeners Grabbed by Life-Altering Events

This story is of a gardener, a friend and my favorite word: Tenacity. I can not think of one without thinking of all three. 

‘Crying Over Spilt Milk’

Where Hilary is Most Happy

I have always equated my life’s course to a river. There have been rapids, sandbars and backwaters. To my way of thinking ‘it’s no use crying over spilt milk’ is good sound advice to myself. If we’re alive we have demonstrably got through the hard times. The alternative? Not by choice…

I feel as if I’m in a backwater now, with the sound of the rapids still ringing in my ears. Here is the short version of how I got here.

There have been many challenges, several being health based. One such occurred at a client’s. I fell on a rain-slick grass hillside, which had been out to get me for years and finally succeeded by breaking my wrist: every damn bone in it. For those of you who don’t know me: walking and gardening on crutches when your arm is in a cast? Well it’s not for the faint-hearted. Hello-o-o, fellow gardeners!!

Next came a diagnosis of bowel cancer and, due to not being able to afford health insurance in the U.S., having the surgery in France where my husband was living (lucky me to have that option!) All went well, as it turned out, and I returned to Indiana with renewed energy. That kind of reprieve is energizing. So over the next few years I managed to raise two teenagers, a dog, cats, chickens, duck, turkey, rabbits (thanks to Irvin), and run my garden design business and develop my gardens on the two acres we lived on.

My own garden is my ‘spilt milk’ issue. I have cried over it, mourned the inability to develop and maintain it to the level I felt it deserved but  when you have no money, you don’t buy plants or employ labour – not for yourself, anyway. Still, there is ‘no use crying…etc. etc.’ so instead you figure other ways of doing things and I did. I got seeds and starts from the ever generous species known as other gardeners; and sometimes even from clients. Over a twenty-three year period that turned out to be a lot of plants! Which is how the garden ended up being featured in a book by the Xerces Society, published by Timber Press: http://www.xerces.org/books-butterfly-gardening/

Gardening is what has got me into trouble many times…and out of it more often.

Having gardened in the UK, Austria and France, gardening in central Indiana and facing the challenge of growing things – anything – in a climate which can swing from 60°F to 0°F in less than 12 hours – is, well, if not exhilarating then I don’t know what! That particular wild-temperature-swing day my daughter and I spent some futile minutes trying to wrap protective cloth around some spring-blooming plants…to no avail, due to howling 60 mile-an-hour winds which typically precede such weather fronts. We ended up wrapped in the cloth ourselves. 😛 We have had some laughs…

Now for the difficult part: my son has already moved to Bloomington, my daughter is heading for Arizona. I was happy about that for both of them, it’s what children do. But it took me two years before I could go upstairs to their bedrooms.

For the next 10 years I spent every winter, for longer and longer periods, in Tucson; happy not to have to negotiate Indiana winters any more than necessary. Crutches and wet/snowy/icy surfaces don’t mix: add in creeping arthritis and general aging…

Three years into that time I was watching my garden grow more unkempt as I was still optimistically adding more beds, and the realization hit that I couldn’t keep on. Despite help from so many people – Rich Peine who would come to chainsaw fallen branches and trees into firewood, Dee Ann Peine who helped clean out beds, clean up pots, weed out garlic mustard (or just spirit me away to the farm or the barrens), Donovan Miller who twice a year removed Amur honeysuckle and rampant mulberry saplings and treated the roots, Sarah Gray who had more than enough to deal with in her own world-class garden; and many others, too numerous to list, over several more years – I couldn’t keep up.

Also, after twenty odd years (and the crash in 2008) my business wasn’t paying so I was facing early retirement, which at least offered a low but steady income, something I had not had in over twenty years.

It is hard to realise that your life’s work is done, at least in that particular form, but…it’s no use crying over spilt milk!

 So here I am, so-called ‘retired’ in my backwater in southern Arizona, gardening in pots outside my front door; still growing things from seeds and starts from generous gardeners and the desert, facing new challenges: namely heat and aridity.

I have cried some more, I am still sad about my gardens in Indiana; but otherwise I refuse outright to cry over – life. I’m still alive, dammit!

Attention gardeners: If you have a story to tell of your personal life-altering events and your gardens please share.

Just One More Adventure: Thank Goodness for Gardeners

Just One More Adventure: Thank Goodness for Gardeners
Gardeners Grabbed by Life-Altering Events

Snowdrop Blooms among the leaf litter (Galanthus).

Snowdrop Blooms among the leaf litter (Galanthus).

Thank Goodness for Gardeners
In last week’s blog I referred to my gardening friends and how much they have helped me cope with sudden changes in my health. For all that I received from them I certainly feel that I need to say more, give more credit to all they have freely given me over the past five months or so. I honestly do not know how I would have traveled this path without their company. At the very least, I certainly would not have wanted to walk this path alone.

Duh!
I was in a funk one afternoon and sitting at my desk looked up an old file from the closed nursery. There I saw a story I had written for its monthly newsletter and the topic was about gardens growing from grief. Often my customers would come visit wanting to talk about a major change in their lives, wanting to design a small memorial garden.
I cannot count the times I have sat with a visiting gardener and talked of an upcoming hip or knee replacement and how that would be effecting their gardens for the season. Other surgeries with varying degrees of seriousness was not an uncommon topic.
If ones lives long enough age will come to interfere with gardening. There is always the “normal” aches and pains of arthritis, of muscles growing weaker and no cooperating with the tasks at hand. Sometime serious disease usually associated with age either interferes with gardening or pushes gardening aside permanently.
I realized that I knew so many gardeners that had, or were, experiencing obstacles to their love of gardens and gardening. I was not alone. Not by a long shot. Why did I not think of them earlier? Such a resource available to me.

Years Later
My nursery and gardens have a history of visitors stretching back well over 20 years. Over those years I have walked the garden, talking plants and life. I have sat near the water feature and we have shared a glass of wine or an iced tea, talking as though we had known each other all our lives. It was not unusual for gardeners to bring a lunch to share, or stop at a bakery on the way here for tea and rolls. There was an atmosphere of family or old acquaintances. Sometimes the gardens and plants were secondary to the conversations. I felt flattered and blessed that gardeners would come visit and find some sense of peace and/or serenity.

Resources
My biggest resource was available from the beginning, but it took me a while to realize what was available. So many of those visiting gardeners considered me a friend and I found them to be very open with sharing stories of their experiences. It was not unusual for a gardener to also be a member of the health community. Solid advice from a professional as well as personal experiences shared. Once I began to think of all those gardeners it was as though a screen was pushed aside so I would have a better view of now only where I was, but where I could go. And, I would not have to make that journey alone.

Gardeners
Almost all I need to assist me in recovery is freely given by the most generous, caring, friends one could hope for in life. I just happened to have formed friendships with gardeners.

Just One More Adventure: Team Work Gardeners Grabbed by Life-Altering Events

Just One More Adventure: Team Work

Gardeners Grabbed by Life-Altering Events

Covered Bridge To Nowhere. At times a good path to take.

Covered Bridge To Nowhere. At times a good path to take.

Team Work

When I think of the words team work I automatically think of a large hospital. Nothing is more important than an uninterrupted flow of knowledge from patient to caregivers, to lab, administration, and so on finally looping back to the patient. Accurate knowledge that is checked at each level as the instructions move along the flow. After all, in many cases, a person’s life is at risk. At the very least not causing a patient to feel worse than they were upon admittance.

 

Checking Out

Being dismissed from a hospital is quite an event. One gets the word they are being dismissed and a process begins that often lasts most of day. All I’s dotted and T’s crossed with each department and doctors while the patient and assistance waits with no word. Finally time to sit in the wheel chair and get pushed out the door with a pile of paper work.

 

First Stop

First stop on the way home is drugstore to fill prescriptions. The stop took a bit longer than normal

for a discussion was needed with the druggist. There were two prescriptions of super-duper antibiotics along with heart meds and blood thinner. The druggist made the decision on which one to ignore. Two prescriptions for two different antibiotics? No one caught that?

 

Testing

I was dismissed on a Wednesday afternoon. Each Friday I was to go to the hospital to have my blood tested for how the blood thinner med was working. After 3 weeks of blood tests I received a call from the lab (thank the gods a lab tech saw and cared enough to call). I was told in no uncertain terms to immediately stop taking the medication, contact my physician. Not to even risk shaving. Somehow no test results made it to my physician’s office. I was overdosing and no one was wondering why they had not heard from Gene’s lab tests. Not one person asked wanted to discuss the mix-up, provide an explanation. I then began going directly to the doctor’s office for testing after that inspiring example of teamwork.

 

Just One More

To keep the concept as simple as possible, my problem is a heart not functioning properly pumping blood to and through damaged lungs. Those two organs work as a team to get oxygen throughout the circulatory system for muscles to function. Without the oxygen muscles cannot perform. Since the problems are so interwoven you would think my specialists would work as a team. Not happening. I see each specialist in rotation every 90 days. At that rate either they will be retired or I will have passed away before we can schedule enough appointments to get all the tests completed.

I will return to the team concept again later.

 

Gardening Friends

Thank the gods for my gardening friends. Some of whom are medical professionals. What I could not find out from the medical community responsible for my care my friends share with me. Examples from those who had gone before me with the same or very similar conditions. Compassion and caring; offers of physical, psychological, and spiritual help. It was my gardening friends who helped me dissipate the anger that was building, who helped me with the tools I needed get on the road to recovery.

 

Next Week: On Recovery Road Again

Just One More Adventure: In The Dark

Just One More Adventure: In The Dark

Gardeners Grabbed by Life-Altering Events

Just a little light at the right time and place.

Just a little light at the right time and place.

 

Not an MD

Perhaps I should mention that I am not a doctor and I do not play one on TV. I did take biology where human anatomy was studied, so I have at least a vague notion of where my vital organs are located; perhaps has some concept of how each one functions. Beyond that I do not speak Latin, have not attended medical school, so I do not speak the specialized language used.  I am also not an employee of the hospital, I was never presented with a standard operating procedure manual during my stay, so I do not automatically know how everyone does what they do when they do it. In short, be short, don’t assume; explain what is going on to me. After all it is my body I occupy and it is of great concern to me. I don’t get another one.

 

Apparitions

To be fair to all in these musing I should mention that being in the hospital is a bit like being in a cocoon wondering when and if you will morph. Wrapped in warm blankets, oxygen tubes helping you breathe, hooked to drip lines with a flow of antibiotics, pain killers, and heart meds that have a side effect of drowsiness. On occasions visions would appear at the side of my cocoon. They spoke of mysterious things in a foreign language (medical speak). No apparitions last longer than a few minutes.

 

Lines of Communication

I have very vague recollections of those appearances. What I do remember was never receiving the results of any test administered during my hospital stay. I can also remember that while I did receive medical terms for my illnesses, degree of illness or prognosis from the specialists went missing. Leaving the hospital I was given a colorful handbook with pages of follow-up appointments. Thirty days to see my heart specialist, ninety days before my first appointment with my lung specialist. Meanwhile, go home and do nothing for 3 weeks except keep my newly acquired oxygen tank company.

 

In The Dark

At no point did anyone ask what I did in my life, how their instructions would affect my life. There were no discussions, no opportunities to ask detailed questions. I had to go home and look up those medical terms on the internet. That was knowledge, but a general definitions of terms did not tell me of my individual degree of heart and lung problems.  I was in the dark and doing considerable whistling.

 

Frustration

So. Here I sat. So weak I could barely walk slowly and cautiously up a hill to my garden. Isolated as the world went on around and without me. No muscle strength and certainly no stamina. Suddenly I felt old and feeble. To be frank I found it all to be frightening.

 

I was about to find my next emotion. Anger.

 

Next week Thank goodness for gardeners.

Just One More Adventure: Emergency Room Revelations

Just One More Adventure: Emergency Room Revelations

Gardeners Grabbed by Life-Altering Events

Japanese maple seeds. Sometimes new beginnings can be quite colorful.

Japanese maple seeds. Sometimes new beginnings can be quite colorful.

 

Companions and Complaints

I had been complaining to my doctors for the past three years or so, but the symptoms were so vague they were dismissed as “you do know you are growing older” and “perhaps you are feeling depressed”. My constant companion had been lack of energy and no stamina, steadily growing worse by the week. My trip to the emergency room with kidney stones quickly shifted to other concerns. Once more I was saved by a minor complaint bringing attention to a more serious concern.

 

Diagnosis

I am going to compress about three months of time that can be returned to in pieces at a later date. For now I will wrap up a four day stay at the hospital where I received several tests, and news of life-altering events. Along with the names of three new specialist I received diagnosis of A-Fib (Atrial fibrillation), moderate to severe Pulmonary hypertension (what is that?), 55% lung capacity, and Sleep Apnea.

 

What Does That Mean?

Since lung capacity cannot be changed once the damage occurs, my potential for making my own oxygen is limited to about half my normal capacity. That means I left the hospital with a bottle of oxygen on a little cart with a hose leading to my nose. I am to be on oxygen 24/7, probably for the rest of my life. The oxygen hose is connected to a special machine that forces oxygen through a mask on my face during sleep.

 

Reality Bites

Arriving home from the hospital that first day, watching the delivery and set up of my oxygenator machine, bottles of oxygen being set up, I was in a bit of daze. But, when the tech left me along with all my new accessories for life, I stood looking out the window and up the hill into my garden. Always in the past it has been my habit to walk my garden upon arriving home. My new companion Bert the Oxygen Bottle and I decided to go for a walk. The small cart was difficult to get up the steps, the uneven mulched path make it difficult to keep the cart upright and behind me as I walked. I could see how gardening at the end of a 7 foot hose with a cart at the other end was not going to work well in the garden. As a matter of fact, it also looked as though I was not going to work well in my garden.

 

Realization

I was exhausted from my walk up the hillside and rested on my bench. Here I was with my mistress the garden, sitting in exhaustion and holding on to the handle of the oxygen cart. That is when it all began to seep into my soul. My garden and gardening were probably going to become a part of my past. Well over 30 years of finding peace, solitude, serenity and contentment in this one special place, would become what once was.

 

Now it was time to find a way to grieve the passing of a part of my soul. Slowly making my way back down the hill I resolved to grieve tomorrow or the next day, for I was too tired to ache now.

Just One More Adventure: How Lucky Can One Gardener Get?

Just One More Adventure: How Lucky Can One Gardener Get?

 

Gardeners Grabbed by Life Altering Events

Slightest breeze and the leaves are gone, the picture changing. One view existing in one moment in time.

Slightest breeze and the leaves are gone, the picture changing. One view existing in one moment in time.

 

 

Luckiest Man Alive

Sometimes it is very hard to see and feel the fact that I am one of the luckiest men living, if not The luckiest. The number one reason to believe I am the luckiest man alive is because I am alive. So, perhaps I should hit the pause button in my story and first tell you why I am so lucky. Then I can tell you all about why I do not always feel that luck.

 

Little Things Can Mean a Lot

In 2008 I scheduled a visit with my family doctor. Normally I tend to put visits to the doctor off until whatever is bothering me goes away on its own. My complaint was certainly not life-threatening, but it was a symptom that got my attention and, for once, I made and kept an appointment. Toward the end of my examination I mentioned that I had a bump on the side of my neck. Perhaps an insect bite that would not go away. Thus began adventure Number One.

What I thought would receive a healing ointment turned into surgery, a port, chemo and radiation, visits with an oncologist for 5 years.

Talk about luck. All was caught at exactly the “right time” by a simple “bug bite”.

 

Confession Good for the Soul

I must confess that it is when I need to find some sense of serenity in my life it is also the time I find serenity to be most elusive. When finding myself up to my unmentionables in a barrel filled with angry alligators, I confess to finding it difficult to take time out to find serenity in a sunset. Usually I am concentrating on how to get out of that barrel along with how to proceed while disturbing fewest of the angriest.

Oh! And What Could This Be

In 2009 there was a repeat performance with my family doctor. This time around I did not hesitate to call and make an appointment the minute something did not feel or look “right”. Referred to a specialist another cancer was detected. However, while being treated for cancer the previous year this cancer was being treated without our knowledge. Again. Just how lucky can one person get? All was once more caught in the early stages. Surgery and subsequent following checkups for the next 5 years and I stand outside that barrel of alligators. Got lucky again with only the word “superficial” being said to me.

 

Fast forward Button.

This past mid-August I ended up in the emergency room with what turned out to be kidney stones. Not life-threatening, but certainly got my attention. While my vitals were being taken, tests were run, and the more they found the harder they looked taking additional tests. I was about to find out what had been my constant companion and complaint over the past 3 or more years, and I was about to become the most lucky of all my adventures.

Stay tuned for Emergency Room Revelations

Just One More Adventure

Just One More Adventure

Gardeners Grabbed by Life Altering Events:

A Blog About Gardeners, Gardening, Aging and Illness

Hepatica growing in old hollow log. Among my favorite quite plantings.

Hepatica growing in old hollow log. Among my favorite quite plantings.

 

All gardeners eventually face the same “life-changing events”. No matter how long we have gardened, or how passionately we have dedicated ourselves to the second soul we have created, there will eventually be changes forced upon our relationship with gardening.

 

Age is the factor occurring most often. We gardeners reach the age where our bodies simply cannot physically keep up with the demands of our creations. Then there are temporary setbacks such as knee or hip replacements, back problems, heart and or lung problems, and a very long list of health “technical difficulties”.  Some gardeners get to return to their gardens while others do not. I am no different in experiencing my own version of a life altering event.

 

I am going to tell my story as it evolves with as little anger and whining as possible. Perhaps in sharing my thought and feelings with you, my journey will not seem so long or arduous. Maybe we can share events that are forcing changes upon us and our gardens. I do want to convey my feelings, actions and reactions, to both physical and emotional as I begin this new life adventure. And, make no mistake about it, these changes in my life are just that: life altering in all nooks and crannies up to, and including, my love of gardening.

 

A Bit of Background

I moved to Southern Indiana in 1976 and purchased my current home in 1978. As of  now that is almost 39 years of  being where my bellybutton said I belonged until such time as I became compost. Thirty-nine years of learning to become a gardener, a plants person, a collector of rare and unusual shade perennials: of soul-melding on a shaded hillside.

 

My garden and I grew together until it covered a hillside and I began sharing plants and ideas with other gardeners. Gardeners came from all over the US, as well as a few from other countries. That, in turn, led to a small specialty nursery concentrating in native and non-native shade perennials, rare and unusual plants. The nursery had a successful existence of over 20 years. As the plants and garden grew, my experience grew and I began to write stories and give talks about the plants and my experiences, illustrating with my photos.  It was an illustrated story of our relationship.

 

My garden was my Muse. I learned more about humans and their behavior than I ever did from another gardener. We were inseparable and I spent more time with her than I did my wife. She gave me a place of peace, a separate world in which to be, a connection to the soil from which I came. We were content and pleased to be connected.

 

Over the past 24 years I have had to reinvent myself due to life-altering events three times. Each time I have accepted the challenge of change and begun a new adventure by reinventing myself. This time the tale is a bit more difficult to accept. Harder to let go even if I never truly had control of my garden. My mistress.

 

What could possibly come between my garden, my Muse and I? Next blog I name and describe the culprit.