Monday, January 15, 2018

A Singular Choice

I'm not sure how to begin this post. Should I explain where I've been for six months or that I no longer have a garden? Casa Mariposa is a memory. The garden lies under a blanket of leaves, holes pock the surface where plants have been dug, and the patio is almost empty, bereft of the pots that brought so much color. The house soon goes on the market and what's left of the garden with it.



BEFORE - My new house is a 1938 stucco Georgian colonial. I cut the shrubs down the night I closed on the house. A huge cherry tree anchors the front yard.



AFTER - I closed on the house at 2:45 pm on a Thursday in mid-November and met my contractor there at 3:15. By Sunday I had a yellow house! I tore out the existing shrubs. The house looked like it was wearing a big green turtleneck.

I spent the summer after the Garden Bloggers Fling was over in my hammock and did not garden. I watered and pulled a few weeds but did not tend or nurture my plants. They grew wild and I turned away. You cannot tend what you know you must leave.


BEFORE - The back yard is an odd set of wooden terraces and poorly constructed steps. A steep slope filled with tree roots is being replaced with a retaining wall. The garage is being held together with ivy.



AFTER - I'm adding a retaining wall this spring to help level out this slope.



AFTER - The existing stairs were a death trap so I had new ones built.

I married young, a wild party girl with no plans in love with an Air Force officer. I was uninhibited and quick to laugh, an enlisted man's daughter eager for adventure. He was handsome and drove a Mustang and I was in love with being loved. But the decisions you make when you're 20 often no longer work when you're in your 40's and in September I asked my husband for a divorce. It was a difficult decision years in the making but life's too short to be unhappy. 


BEFORE - My garage is too small for my car but works as an awesome garden shed. A side porch adds period charm.



AFTER - I'm looking forward to filling this space with plants! I'm still in the process of rescuing and transplanting as many perennials and small shrubs as possible.


AFTER - Cute and funky works for me!

My new garden sits fallow behind an old house in a small country town twenty miles from the manufactured suburb where I used to live. A massive maple shades the weedy lawn and ivy grows with abandon. The existing shrubs have been torn out and a steep slope ripe with tree roots has made transplanting almost impossible. The property is small and I have no place to put most of the plants I'm so desperate to save. A month long renovation ate away at my time and the plants have gone dormant, leaving me to guess their location.



BEFORE - I kept the existing deck but replaced the lumpy stones with brick and removed the boxwood. The brick patio was built around an odd assortment of shrubs that were quickly removed.



AFTER - All the hydrangea stayed, except for one that was sacrificed to the compost pile for the crime of being planted just a few inches from the house and in the way of the painters.



All my pots came with me! Most of these pots have pots inside them like Russian stacking dolls.


I've already started lime washing my brick patio because I just can't resist a project....

But with everything I do, my divorce is as quirky as I am. My soon to be ex-husband and I are still friends, a new relationship to replace the old one. A new garden and life await.




I'm still here!
  

75 comments:

  1. Congrats on having the courage to pursue your happiness. I look forward to seeing your new garden and life flourish. I wish that I lived closer and could help you haul your flower pots around and plant your plants. I love the changes that you've made already to make it your own. It will soon be overflowing with magic!

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  2. I'm so glad that you are moving forward, full steam ahead, and your contentment shows, both in your photo and your words. I have a feeling you will find no shortage of projects at your new house and I'm really looking forward to seeing your garden transform over the months/years to come. XOXO

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    1. I am happy, for sure. Life isn't perfect but it's good. I did so much to the interior, it's too bad this isn't a home improvement blog! A few parts of the house may show up, anyway. :o) I am very excited to start the garden. I have lots of plants stuffed in holes here and there but no design at all. Right now, I'm just trying to rescue plants from the other garden.

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  3. Happy New Year, dear friend. I see you've been very busy. You've wasted no time making your new digs a sweet reflection of you. The yellow is really nice. I look forward to reading about your progress and I have no doubt it will be teeming with bees and butterflies in a few months.

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    1. Thanks! I love the yellow and it's so much warmer and deeper in person that it appears in these pics. I have a lot of shade so I'm not sure what the garden is going to look like....

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  4. Asking for a divorce after almost 19 years of marriage was the best decision I ever made. It's been over ten years now and I've never looked back. Yes it's both exciting and overwhelming but it looks like you're moving full steam ahead. I can't wait to see your new home and garden develop!

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    1. Thanks! It was the decision that was right for me and I'm much happier for it. I'm very glad my almost-ex and I are still friends. That was important to me.

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  5. Your new house is charming and your garden looks inviting. A challenge for sure, but I have no doubt that you will craft a beautiful space in no time. All the best with your new adventures. You're right -- life's too short, eat dessert first!

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    1. The tree roots may drive me nuts but I have a solution...!!

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  6. Big hugs and warmth sent your way. Invite me. I will come.

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  7. What a fantastic house! And it's great that you and your ex will be amicable. How lucky we garden bloggers were to visit your previous garden before you had to let it go. Our memories and photos will live on even as a new garden is created at your new digs.I am willing to bet it will be every bit as dynamic and joyful as the one you left behind.

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    1. I am very glad everyone saw the garden, too. It was a personal high point. Thank you for your kind words and support.

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  8. Life....ever evolving, ever interesting and always making us appreciate how happiness-everyday- is more than just a notion. Looking forward to your new garden party :)!
    Hugs my friend...you will be fine!

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  9. I welcome you back to my reading list and will enjoy seeing you and your garden evolve.

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  10. Your new house is absolutely wonderful! I love it. You are such an inspiration, if you're not happy make those big changes. Personally I think it's wonderful that you're still friends with your ex. Good for you both! Now get a working in that garden lady!

    p.s. you look fabulous!

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    1. A zillion thanks, Loree. :o) I'm in a very happy, peaceful place. It must show! :o)

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  11. I've thought of you often since the Fling (most recently when the foliage of the Amaryllis belladonna you sent me appeared this month). I wondered what you were up to but assumed that the Fling had worn you out and you were enjoying some well-deserved down time. But part of me knew you wouldn't spend 6 months just swinging in a hammock. Even with this one post, I can see how intensely you're pursuing this new chapter in your life. You may have a lot more to do to make the new house and garden really yours but what you've already accomplished is phenomenal and so very Tammy. I look forward to sharing the joys of your new garden's development. Best wishes!!!

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    1. I'm so glad they're up and growing!! Thanks so much, Kris! I'm always just an email away. :o)

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  12. Your new home is beautiful, and I look forward to seeing your new garden take shape. Best wishes to you as you start this new chapter!

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  13. God bless you dear lady. This is certainly the way to grab onto life and make it what you want. As you say life is short and no sense to be miserable in any way that you can change. Change is good for everyone. I am as excited as you are at the prospect of watching your garden evolve in to the paradise I know you will make it. A slope used to seem daunting to me but now with seeing so many beautiful gardens developed on slopes I think this challenge would be fun. You go girl.

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    1. Thanks, Lisa! I tend to live with passion. It's simply who I am and I'm excited to start a new life. :o)

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  14. Good luck with your new life, home, and gardens. The photos show your hard work so far, and I'm only guessing how lovely the gardens will be when you get an opportunity to start work on them.

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    1. Thanks! I'm still coming up with a design. Once the retaining wall is in, it will be easier for me to visualize the space. There will be another riverbed/rain garden like I had in my last garden but this one will be quite different and I'm excited to create it.

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  15. You're an inspiration as always, Tammy! I admire your courage to pursue what is best for you and to plunge into all these new projects full steam ahead. Wishing you all the best in your new life, and I can't wait to see how you transform your new garden.

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    1. Thanks, Rose! I'd rather be courageous and fail than live the with regret of having been to scared to give anything a try.

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  16. Wow. So much change. New life, new house, new garden. Best of luck to you!

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    1. Thank you! Life is very different and totally the same all at once. I like it!

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  17. Here's to new adventures! I'd say that you're reinventing yourself, but it seems more like re-finding yourself. Can't wait to see what you do with your blank (and challenging) canvas.

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    1. My blank canvas has areas of nasty, sticky clay soil so I have a lot of work ahead of me. :o)

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  18. Your new house is nice! It reminds me a lot of my grandparents' house in rural Indiana. It was built in the Federalist style too.

    It's great that you and your ex will still be friends.

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    1. I'm glad we're still friends, too. That was very important to me.

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  19. A new life, house and garden! Gosh!!!I am amazed at how much you have done already, how wonderful it all looks. A garden is the perfect place to heal and gather your thoughts, a new one even more so, I am looking forward to seeing how it all develops, exciting times indeed. I love how you just get on with things and continue to move forward, no whinging from you!!! What an inspiration you are! So glad you and your ex can still be friends, that is rare these days. All the very best to you, have a wonderful New Year. Huge hugs.xxx

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    1. Thanks, Dina! I'm in a very good place mentally and emotionally and am happier than I've been in a long time. Whining doesn't change anything so I don't see the point in it. I'd rather just get on with life.

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  20. I wish you good luck and every happiness in your new home. You are an amazing woman.
    I feel that life will be good. Look forward to watching you and your garden grow :))

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    1. Thanks, Cheryl! I will be by to visit your blog. I'm having internet problems at home and keep losing service, making it a challenge to return visits. I'm hoping to have that fixed asap so I can get on with my digital life!

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  21. Wishing you all the best with your new home and gardens. I just came across your blog and can see by your posts and the comments written here that you are an amazing person. I look forward to watching your garden grow and thrive. Again...all the best to you!

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    1. Thanks, Lee! I have big plans for my garden and am excited to see it all come together. :o)

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  22. My ex and I were married 18 years, separated 4. I thought I'd never be loved, never have another real home, never be part of a family. Wrong on all counts. Never is a long time, but always is even longer if you're unhappy. You go girl!

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    1. Thanks! I'm at peace with my life and my choices. It's a good feeling. :o)

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  23. Wishing you all good things along your new path of life. Also, I look forward to updates on the new garden as you create once more.

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    1. Thanks! I'll be starting my seeds soon and am excited to get them growing. :o)

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  24. Blessings as you begin this new chapter of your life, Tammy. I'm sure your garden will be simply amazing and will bring you much joy. It's good to hear that you and your ex are able to retain your friendship. Peace and hugs.

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    1. Thanks, Beth! It will take a while for this spot of land to become amazing but it's do-able!

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  25. Wishing you all the best for your new life, home and garden. Having made a similar move many years ago, it was the best thing I ever did. Enjoy!

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  26. Tammy you have dragged me out of my "recluse" hibernation from the garden world .. you have shocked and amazed me with your life changing turn of events .. I had no idea until I happen to glance over my blog roll just by chance.
    You are one stellar woman and you keep proving it over and over again. I am sorry for any anguish that you have gone through with the divorce but it is a wonderful sign that you and your ex can stay friends as you both change directions in your lives .. bravo !
    Your "new old" house looks perfect ... it is going to be just your baby, with the changes you are enacting and planning .. I can't wait to read and see what you are up to ... you GO girl ! it is going to be one heck of a journey and you are going to be amazing all through it.
    Best of luck and I will be checking in on you !
    Joy : )

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    1. I just love you and your boundless support, Joy! My old new house is fabulous and my ex and I have kept the anguish to a minimum. He's a good man and I wish him the best. I'll be posting every 10 days or so.

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  27. Good luck to you Tammy. Here's to another home and garden full of life and happiness for you x

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  28. You've really plunged into whipping the new house and garden into shape! You've made a fantastic start and I see great potential. Might I suggest a mix of dwarf oakleaf hydrangea and ostrich ferns to stand in for the green turtleneck? Or maybe a compact Korean spice viburnum if there is enough sun? Imagine smelling the fragrance through the front door in spring. Hope we get to see the new house one of these days!

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    1. Excellent suggestions!! I love fragrant shrubs and will miss my lilacs. I think one side of the front door gets more shade than the other so there will be lots of research to find the perfect shrubs that meet all my criteria.

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  29. Oh you beautiful girl! I've been humming "Flying on Your Own" by Rita MacNiell all day since reading your post. You are going to soar.xxx

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    1. THANK YOU!! One of my favorite quotes says "I'm scared. What if I fall? But, love, what if you soar?" so I pulled out my wings and flew. :o)

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  30. Oh, dear, how many changes in your life! The new life and new home, new cares and new relation. Good luck, Tammy!

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  31. Hello Tammy, warmest hugs to you and I hope the upheavals calm down into a new normal quickly. I know you have the energy, drive, creativeness and quirkiness to make a new beautiful home and a new stunning garden and you're already well on the way. We all can't wait to read and watch all about it, I know it will be a great success and you'll find the peace and happiness at the end of the turmoil.

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    1. So much love to you, my friend! I'm at peace and the turmoil has been very manageable. See you this summer!

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  32. I admire your courage for making such a huge change. Life is too short. If your unhappy, you're right, you have to move forward. I love your new yellow house! It has character and charm. I would have gotten rid of the overgrown shrubs the moment the place closed too. Are you going to put shutters back on? The porch is lovely. Can't wait to see what you do with the gardens. Looks like lots of shade?

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    1. Thanks, Jen! I threw the shutters away. They were junky black plastic and served no purpose. Tons of shade and massive tree roots. I love the yellow, too. It's very warm and happy. :o)

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  33. I'm happy you're still here, even if "here" has changed. Wishing you peace and joy with your new garden and updated life.

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  34. Sending you hugs across the miles! Change, even if it's for the better, is difficult. I'm glad you and your soon-to-be ex are still friends, that you're moving on, that you're still here, and have a fun new, if smaller, garden to play with. Casa Mariposa Deux; What Dreams May Come...(of soaring wings and flying leap.) Fly on free spirit!

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    1. Free spirit is exactly what I am and this move was much needed. It's still Casa Mariposa, I suppose. Just a new take on the original. :o)

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  35. I wondered where you had got to. Well done on following your dream, we only have one life so make it a good one. I have been there so I know it takes courage. I wish you all the best and much happiness in your beautiful new home. How exciting making a new garden. Looking forward to watching the developments.

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    1. It did take courage but I'm very glad I made this choice. :o)

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  36. Oh! I wish you the best in your new home and look forward to seeing how you meet the challenges of your new life and garden. May your indomitable spirit, humor and courage never fail!

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    1. Thank you so much for your support!! Reading all these comments has been so fabulous! I wanted to the post to be positive and the comments have been just incredible! :o)

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  37. Sending all good energy to you, and all best wishes for your new life.

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