Scary House

, Crrritic

It may be spooky, but it’s mine

Since we don’t know each other very well, I am going to start my association with the venerable Garden Rant with a confession.

My house is the “Scary House”

It wasn’t ALWAYS like that. My garden was gorgeous! It’s been in magazines and books! My garden was in Martha Stewart Living for goodness sake!!!! People used to screech to a halt while driving by, park their cars, and ring my doorbell in the hopes that I might give them an impromptu garden tour.

Yea. That doesn’t happen anymore.

Now, people walk by my garden quickly, with their eyes averted, when before they used to linger and enjoy. They shake their heads, they cluck their tongues. “What happened?” they think – I can HEAR it, even though they aren’t saying it out loud.

“What HAPPENED?” well, frankly… life happened.

Sometimes things don’t go according to plan. Life can look like it is moving along swimmingly, and then suddenly, the rug is pulled out from under you. You are no longer on top of your game – you are too busy, your support system slips, there isn’t enough time in a day, or you just don’t have the heart. And something has to give.

For me, it was my garden. My guilt and shame looms large – almost as tall and overwhelming as the weeds that have overtaken the corners of my formerly glorious space. But what could I do? It was a rough couple of years, and I just couldn’t keep up with the high bar I had set for myself. Even the lower bar, the “practice” bar, seemed too far a reach. My wonderful outdoor spaces became an unkempt reflection of the state of my life – messy, unpredictable, and out of control. And although most things are coming back into my grasp, my garden still eludes me. As my most important relationship, this garden deserves more than a quick fix, she deserves the kind of care and clarity of purpose I am just now starting to feel capable of. It has been a long, rough road.

So as if I didn’t already feel bad enough, I go online and have to suffer through the chirpy, breezy, “Type-A” status updates and blog posts that are a daily reminder of how far back I have fallen. When do these people STOP? How is it that they always seem to have the time to garden – ALWAYS? And not just regular, garden-variety gardening – these people are engaged in Extreme Acts of Daily Gardening! I swear if I have to wake up to another installment of “Good Morning Gardeners! It’s 6am and I’ve already planted all of my winter crops and I weeded my acre and a half of paradise and espaliered my pear trees – now I am sitting on my patio with a steaming mug of freshly brewed coffee (that I grew, roasted, and ground), planning out the rest of my morning. I’m thinking about preserving the last of the tomatoes before I tend to the chickens and milk the goat, and then- off to work!… SO WHAT ARE YOU UP TO???”

I swear I want to grab the nearest hoe and flail around wildly until my weapon finds its target. Unfortunately, since my hoe is rusted and broken somewhere around the side of my house, I will only end up flailing wildly with my fists, and I’ll probably hit myself in the eye during this epic spaz-out.

Sigh. Am I the only one who feels like this? Surely life has gotten in the way for others? Does your garden look like you want it to, always? Is your guilt as great as mine? What with all of the external pressure the internet exerts, how can we NOT feel guilty when we “slip”? I feel like the cheerleader in highschool who let herself go. I mean REALLY let herself GO. The one who goes to the 10 year reunion with an extra 50 lbs and unfashionable hair, and everyone hugs her and tells her how great she looks, but they are really thinking – What HAPPENED?

Life happened. And sometimes the thing you love, the thing that has always inspired you and seen you through, fails you. So what to do? We get ourselves together, brush ourselves off, and when we can, when the universe finally gives us the metaphysical go-ahead – we start to cultivate. And as we cultivate our gardens, we cultivate our hearts. I am planning on healing. I’m open to the journey. And one day, on the other end of this path, if I am sitting on my gorgeously re-designed patio with my steaming mug of homegrown coffee surveying my corner of paradise, sending out a status update that cheerfully details the accomplishments of the morning – I’ll be watching out of the corner of my twinkling eye, waiting for a flailing hoe to hit me upside the head.

Posted by

Ivette Soler
on October 30, 2013 at 1:20 am, in the category Everybody’s a Critic, Real Gardens.

Comment List

  • Jennah 17 / 11 / 2016

    YES! So much yes. Each spring I think this is the year I will get it together and have a wonderful vegetable garden again. But since the spring when I was pregnant and morning sick with my now 2 year old, it’s mostly been “plant vegetables. neglect vegetables. weed if you can.” It makes me sad, but life. Life gets in the way, man.

  • Jennah 20 / 11 / 2016

    For the past couple months, every time I’ve gotten excited to finally notice a ripe tomato on the vine, I turn it over and it’s already started to rot or be eaten by a bug. It’s pretty depressing. But where I used to come home and do a few yard chores, now I take the kid and dog for a walk. at least the kid begs for the sunsugar tomatoes straight off the vine, so those get eaten!

  • admin 20 / 11 / 2016

    I can relate, although in my case it was the back yard that no one really had to see but ME, but that was enough to make me crazy. So I downsized to a garden I can easily keep up, no matter what – until age gets the best of me, I suppose. But then at least it won’t cost much to pay someone else to do the weeding. No mowing needed.

  • Michael Romero 21 / 11 / 2016

    I love this! Life gets you in it’s whirl and its hard to paddle out of it. Great writing. Thank you for sharing.

  • Teri 21 / 11 / 2016

    I am so glad I’m not the only one… the yard just got away from me this year while life ran interference. But I will recover this winter and hopefully get it sorted next year!

  • admin 21 / 11 / 2016

    The “spooky house” in our neighborhood had discarded appliances in the front yard (not visible from the street or anywhere else), so you’re ahead of the curve on that one (I hope).

  • Helen Weis 21 / 11 / 2016

    Love this post, Ivette. As a designer, I find it to be very true of myself and it is immensely refreshing to hear another designer speak of it. You are right, life happens and sometimes the thing we love the most, or the thing that brings us the best ways to handle our stress is the one thing that goes by the wayside. Thus making the guilt and the stress all the more fun. Ironic isn’t it…. lol! Here is to cultivating, in and out of the garden. Still, I’d watch out for the flying hoe! XO

  • Laura Bell 21 / 11 / 2016

    Oh. My. GOSH.

  • anne 21 / 11 / 2016

    ….and my brother once told me that he saw a “bent ‘ho’e” in my garden (complete with a blesy twang inhis voice)!

  • anne 22 / 11 / 2016

    oops, I meant “bluesy”

  • Elsa 22 / 11 / 2016

    Totally can relate to this one. For me, life got in the way. Also, the combination of a new storm water pond putting my yard squarely in the flood plain and random neighborhood animals finding my yard irresistible for use as a litter box have taken any joy or therapeutic value out of my gardening exploits.

  • anne 22 / 11 / 2016

    Over the years, I’ve developed only 1 “must” for my gardening: I must plant at least 1 tomato plant. And trust me, I have had a couple of years in the last few decades where that is ALL that got planted or tended in my yard! Amidst the weeds! But, I had tomatoes that year! All else could be forgiven!

  • Jenny Peterson 22 / 11 / 2016

    Oh, Ivette, as you know, this happened to me last year when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I’d just moved in with my Hunky Man and had all these plans for our acre lot, then BAM!! Now, we’re getting things into shape, but for awhile I would irritate my fiance by humming the theme to “Sanford & Son” or singing “In the Ghetto” in my best South Park/Eric Cartman voice whenever we’d venture outside. I had to remind myself that my garden is not my bitch, it’s there for my enjoyment, so I had to lose the guilt. I still feel a bit embarrassed that this landscape designer doesn’t have a kick ass garden, but there you go. Here’s to hoping YOU are feeling better about your life these days…..the garden will follow in due time. XOXO Jenny

  • Mary Gray 22 / 11 / 2016

    Yup! I think that beautiful home and garden magazines are to us middle aged women what Cosmo and Glamour are to young women: we love to look at them but they tend to inspire mostly guilt and anxiety. I am at peace with my yard; it is my house i feel guilty about. If I see another gorgeous kitchen renovation with a Farmhouse sink and Stainless steel appliances, with a mom feeding her kids cookies at the giant island, I am going to go loco.

  • Carol 23 / 11 / 2016

    Whoa there, Ivette. Let’s not take up innocent hoes and use them as weapons, or this will never work out for me. I collect and admire these simple instruments of gardening! Now, get that rusty hoe and clean it up and put it away properly and then we can compare our out of control gardens. Bet I have more thistle weeds than you do and thank goodness for the privacy fence around my back yard. What goes on back there is for me to know and the neighbors to ignore, including all the weeds.

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