To prepare ourselves for retirement, we decided to downsize a couple of years ago and move into a smaller home with almost no yard. It’s a mixed blessing. First, there’s no grass for us to mow as that is taken care of for us in this community. On the other hand, there is almost no room for plants, flowers, and my cherished tomato plants, okra, and other favored vegetables. Nevertheless, we’re learning that scaled down gardening is just another part of the scaled down lifestyle.
Our previous home sat on a relatively large tract of land with ample room for grass and gardens. Prior to moving there, I never had much of an interest in plants and flowers except for an occasional tomato plant stuck somewhere near the house. However, with so much space, I let my construction self take over and set about to build beds, borders, walls and trellises to hold the plants and fill the space available. Over the next thirteen years I learned a lot about the art and science of gardening. I learned first that the basics of soil and sunlight are more important than I ever realized…roses like a lot of sun, hydrangeas, not so much. I learned that there is a rhythm to gardening–that there is a time to plant, to fertilize, to water, to prune, to weed, to split, and to spray. I also learned that gardening teaches us patience. In the beginning, I was determined to have beds full of blooming flowers immediately so I planted things everywhere and waited for the blooms to flourish. By the third year, the beds had become so crowded that they had no room to grow. That was a great lesson in learning how to space the plants and have the patience to let Mother Nature run it’s course.
In spite of all of the hard work, there was a tremendous amount of satisfaction when the flowers bloomed, the vegetables ripened, and guests paid us compliments. When it came time to move to a smaller place, it was comforting to know that we had and acquired an interest in an activity that could be taken with us wherever we went.
The previous owner of our new home had planted a few things around the house in the time she lived there. We saved most of the shrubs and a lovely Japanese Maple. Helen went to work and created a bed that runs along one side of the house that is about three feet deep. I went back to the place where we used to buy landscape stones and got enough to place along the length of the outside edge of the bed.
As for me, I cleared out a corner of a wooded area behind the house (close to the water spigot) and created a small bed approximately five feet deep, by eight feet wide. I used a herbicide to kill all the invading weeds and vines and waited for them to die… slowly (remember, patience). Then I covered the ground with MiracleGro Garden Soil and planted three Dahlia bulbs, one tomato plant, and about a half pound of my beloved zinnias that I ordered from Wildseed Farms. (See photo at top) The tomato has really done well as have the zinnias, but the Dahlias did not get enough sunlight and we’ll have to find a new home for them next season. With gardening, the learning never stops.
I doubt that we’ll expand much beyond what we have now. While I really do miss the large beds of zinnias and other flowering annuals from our last home, I am content with a few blooms to enjoy and will continue the activity as long as we are able, but still have a lot more time to lead the lifestyle of an active retiree that would otherwise have gone to weeding, watering, and mulching.
Please check out the Gardening Picture Gallery that follows this post for pictures of plants from both our last home and our current one. If you have a gardening story please share that with us too and we’ll see if we can feature it in an upcoming update.
For now, I’ll be Easin’ Along to check out my tomato plant…been cravin’ a BLT.