just ponderin'

… on garden therapy

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The ‘Inside the Wall Garden’

On our little street, on our little island (i know, I totally co-opted the street and the island right there, but I’m gonna stick to it), there are – wait let me count…

14.

There are 14 houses.

Well, one is a wicked cute house – almost like a tree house, but not (I have to take a pic for you) right next to Bald Eagle Pond (not its real name but totally fitting) and Dean and Sarah live there and it is like a half house.

So 13 and one half houses are on our road.

And it is very cool to know that all of the houses are still the original houses – meaning no one has knocked them down to build shiny new houses yet. I actually have no judgement on that, really. Maine-ly (see what I did there?) because I know what an endeavor – in time, stress, sweat, and clobber-your-spouse-on-the-head-potential – that restoring a house (and barn!) – that many people tell you would be “cheaper to knock down and start all over” – takes. And it would have been cheaper.

But then again…

There is something so very cool living in the same house that Mr. Walbridge lived in (and may still hang out in).

One that once had the first area switchboard in its front hallway, after the then-owner convinced ten other people in the area to agree to have telephones so he could run his lobster business more efficiently (that was what the phone company needed – eleven customers – in order to bring a telephone line to the area).

The list of cool goes on and on.

I’m glad we saved this house.

And I’m glad our next door neighbors saved theirs too.  Ours and theirs were once wings on the same old brick house up the hill now gone). I think that makes us related, by house history anyway.

On the other side of us is another old house and, in the early 1900s, when our Inn was full, there was an ‘overflow’ room there. It could sleep two guests.

I had a lovely chat with my neighbor Judy in that room on Thursday.

Across the street, on one side of our grass and gardens, is a house that was once the post office. And on the other side is the Salt Shed – which was just that – a big ‘shed’ where fish were salted to preserve them. Now it’s Barbara and Ted’s house, right on the water. In the photo above – between our porch and barn, you can just see the chimney of the Salt Shed in the distance.

Each house on the street has its own very neat story, and it is very cool to still be in and amongst them when we wake up each day and walk around.

Once we got our own house to the point of not falling down, electrocuting, or otherwise harming us while we were in it, we took to the gardens.

Because the house wanted them.

And yep, call me kooky (you wouldn’t be the first), but I wait for a house to tell me what color it wants to be, and how it wants to have us live in it, and what it wants around it.

Crazy I know, but it happens for me… if I listen.

Because what happens if you don’t listen to your old house when it tells you what it wants?

Amityville Horror.

Anyway, when we bought the house, we pretty much just had a few old and dying Beatle Bushes.

Okay.

We had roses on one property line.

But we also had some really large trees that surround the house. Wedding trees! Planted in pairs – for brides and grooms – Several over a hundred years old, the rest pretty close.

So the issue, in creating gardens, was that I was not a garden designer (nor am I good at the whole plant-keeping-alive thing).

Still not, actually.

But I think visually, and I can envision.

I envisioned english gardens, and Monet at Giverny and splashes of color that last and…

Well, then I realized I was on the coast of Maine.

But so what!

Because don’t tell me what I cannot do Mother Nature!

So we set to work.

I painted colors and textures in my brain, and then valiantly attempted to put them on paper – with absolutely no appreciation of scale (or the fact that some of my plants may have been tropical).

And then people who know way more than i do about plants would take those things, and my words and gesticulations, and match plants and rocks for walls and feet (called ‘hardscape’) and then we would have…

Well, then we would have something that I would be told would be SOMETHING in a few years.

And now, nearly ten years later, I have these very cool and amazing spaces that I continue to design and redesign (mainly through gesticulation to very patient people named Jay, Michelle, and Ryan).  And I get to touch and smell and walk through and photograph them and smile at them.

And I realized the other day, during this summer of recovery (this is what Granny and I are calling it, coming up on two months since Grampa left our world).  Anyway, I realized that gardens have enveloped me through many tough times.

Something about digging in dirt.

Absent-mindedly plucking hundreds of day lily heads gone past, or watering new plantings, or pruning roses (once I was told for the bazillionth time how to do it). Quiet tasks.

Ponderin’ tasks.

All requiring attention, and patience, while bees do their buzzing and the chirping birds chat with each other, and the tiny hummingbirds stop in midair to make sure you’re doing everything right.

Not a bad place to recover, or way to recover.  Granny and I are in sync on this.

And clearly the gardens are too.

Thanks for readin’.

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Elena Peters

midlife blogger & pinterest master

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