Monday, July 6, 2015

The Evolution of a Garden

My Mom's lot is a wooded space that tells a 50 year story of family and growth.  When my parents bought the lot on Meadowood Road in Kingston in 1956, it was an empty space with a creek at the back, and a small house in progress.  Today, this space is burgeoning with gardens, mature trees, wild flowers, and workshops and sheds. 

As we were growing up, my mom did much to bring this space to life.  Raising four kids, she had little time for gardening, but somehow she managed to make the wooded spaces and the tended gardens work together. 

Over the years, the space took on the character of our family.  It reflects the hard times and the happy times and everything in between with a gentleness and laughter, as well as a hardy striving, and a talent for survival. 

My brothers and sister and I spent many hours in the woods around our property, or at the mill pond fishing or playing or gathering chestnuts and strawberries.  Our childhoods were filled with these endless hours surrounded by natural beauty.  Much of that is now covered by housing, but through the years, I transplanted trilliums, and jack-in-the-pulpits and ferns from the woods and marshlands around Collins Bay into my mom's gardens.

Today, these reminders of our childhood thrive year to year alongside my mom's lilac trees, tulips and daffodils, dogwood, blood root, rose bushes and the many ash and maple trees that shade the lot.

Mom's garden became a hybrid of who we are and the natural surroundings of where we had made our home.  As they blended into the unique character of what we now call, simply, 'Meadowood' to refer to our childhood home, this space has become an integral part of our identity as a family.

When my dad died four years ago and my mom was diagnosed with leukemia that same year, our lot suffered.  Neglected for chemo treatments and funerals and estate settling, the plants became overgrown, branches died, the ash trees were at risk by beetles, and the grass became tangled with weeds. 

My mother was unable to tend to her flowers, and the usual baskets of annuals did not make it to her lot. But underneath it all, the plants she had so carefully tended year after year, the roses my sister had planted, the trilliums and wild flowers I had transplanted struggled to claim their patch of soil and waited for our family to take notice again.

This year, my mom is healthy and happy again.  With renewed energy, she and my sister have returned to the gardening they love, and with the help of a gardener, they are restoring our lot on Meadowood. 

As the flowers bloom, the trees spring to life and the beds become free of weeds, the stunning legacy of Mom's garden is being returned to us. Its beauty and stunning refusal to relinquish its claim to this particular bit of turf reminds me of the resilience of home and family. 

Now, as we make a concerted effort to restore balance and growth, order and beauty, the lesson of Mom's garden is a simple one.

However many weeds sprout and threaten to choke us out of our life, the true nature of who we are, the roots we put down, the potential to return and bloom better than before will always be waiting for us underneath.      


  1. What an enchanted garden and it takes on the personality of its caretaker. Lovely post.

  2. What a beautiful analogy, Sally! Our nature trails are so often the paths of our lives. Lovely!

  3. Thanks for the comments, Cryssa and Elaine. Mom is very proud of her garden, and until recently, I didn't understand just how fully our lot on Meadowood Road wove into the fabric of who we are as a family. I'm proud to be part of the restoration process as we move toward better times for the Moore family. Last week, we got the all clear from the hospital on Mom's remission, so it looks like the restoration will continue. I took more pictures of the garden, and will post them here soon. Stay tuned!

  4. I've never really been in to gardening but I'd sure like to start now thanks for sharing this is so helpful:) Can we follow each other’s blog to support each other?:) please let me know if you are interested so I can follow your blog back:)


  5. Hi Hilary! I've been immersed in novel edits, but coming up for air. Thank-you for visiting my blog. I'm so glad you enjoyed the Evolution of a Garden. It's so affirming to see how much of our personal history is reflected in what we grow and where we came from. I'm not much of a gardener at my own home, but taking some responsibility for Mom's home has taught me a lot about what it really means. There's a lot more going on at Meadowood, and this post was a popular one, so I may follow up with more pics soon. Stay tuned!