The Garden Life: Change is inevitable, in the garden and in life




I have taken a leap and made the move from Scout’s Run, my garden home of 24 years. My new garden space is a small patio nestled in front of a modest townhouse. Caught up in the whirlwind of moving, the month of July raced by as I tried my best to keep the garden well watered, weeds pulled and flowers deadheaded despite the fact that I had little time or mind for anything but planning and packing for the move of a lifetime.

Over the last year I had to adjust to the notion that I would never garden on the level that I have gardened over the past 20 years. Oh yes, I still intend to get my hands dirty potting up flowering planters or helping a friend prepare for planting a crop of late-season vegetables. I won’t, however, be mowing 10,000 square feet of lawn.

Full immersion in something one loves to do is exhilarating and truly rewarding. Although my desire for gardening has not waned, my interest in maintaining this garden of mine at the expense of visiting other gardens and traveling has done so. I am still a gardener but I’m looking forward to gardening in a different manner.

I hope to take what I have learned from gardening 3½ acres and apply that knowledge in a new way. Perhaps I will volunteer more time with the Master Gardener program, our Clark County Hardy Plant Society or the Growing Groceries program. I think that planting, caring for and watching more than 100 trees, shrubs and innumerable perennial flowering plants as they grew to maturity may have taught me enough to share a thing or two with willing young gardeners.

August 2014 brings with it a clean slate and a chance to rethink my intentions for the year ahead. Beautiful autumn will soon come along. Spring will once again follow winter. The seasons of summer and fall will repeat in 2015. The dates of the calendar repeat themselves but experience assures us that no day in nature is exactly like any day before.

Change is inevitable. Some we will initiate on our own and some will happen despite our personal agenda. All who garden do so individually, even if we garden with a partner or a group of fellow gardeners. We put ourselves into every shovel full of compost that blankets the beds and borders of the garden. With every seed we place in the earth, we instill our personal vision of a future flower.

Enlightening revelation

One of the most enlightening revelations in gardening is that we can continue to modify the texture of every idea that we have. We can, if we wish, make intricate floral tapestries from the thread of perennials, shrubs, trees and vines. The Japanese art of bonsai teaches us that simplicity itself can be continually fine-tuned. By simply adding a fork to an established garden pathway and taking a few steps to the left, I was able to first envision a secret glen, dale or dell and then, over time, create one in my own garden.

Although this space appears to be an informal circle, it is based in architectural reality on a square formed by the four maples at each amorphous corner. If an X were drawn on the ground between the four trees, the line would intersect at the center of the lawn where a large cedar bird feeder sits on an eight-foot tall post. The surrounding berm is planted with a casual mix of native snowberry, ferns and Nootka roses that give the area a sense of structure through the leanest season of the year.

Of course, all these thoughts and ideas are nothing more than my personal musings. What really matters is that a family of ring-tailed doves found this area of the garden to their liking. For many years now, in spring and summer, they have graced the decks of the bird feeder with their presence. When they set off in flight, the distinct, hollow echo of their flapping wings brings the final picture to animate life.

Many visitors never made it to this area of my garden. There is a lot to see and we all have our own specific interests when touring someone else’s place. Some miss the fork in the path and continue into the wooded area ahead that I like to call “The Wilderness.” At one time, this was the new, exciting direction I was taking my garden. With my move to a new home and very small garden, I will take advantage of nature’s continuous cycle and begin all over again.

Robb Rosser is a WSU-certified master gardener. Reach him at