After choosing my next marathon and plotting out a training plan to follow, I’d sit for a moment and envision the race. Anything seemed possible. The same has been true for my new garden just beyond the garden gate, which we have dubbed “the meadow.”
A week or two ago, the neighbor suggested we sell her this plot of land to add to her small homestead. After walking the meadow that day with eyes wide open, I thought it was an excellent idea. Why did I think we could transform this scraggly land into a beautiful garden anyway. It would be so much work. But, by the following morning, I had changed my mind, and that’s when everything finally seemed to fall into place.
There were workers at the house down the street, and my husband asked if they would come to our house next. Pablo enthusiastically agreed to clear our meadow, which he did by hand using a machete, shovel, and rake. Then he cut the ivy from the bottom of the trees, hoping it would eventually die, and he spread a load of mulch everywhere.
For my first day working in the meadow, I created paths to define planting versus walking areas. There were several large boulders that we discovered earlier this year when we had the dead trees removed. Pablo used a giant crowbar to move some of them into a better position. There are two humongous boulders still covered in ivy that I imagine becoming a feature of the garden someday – even if it takes an extraordinary imagination to see what this feature may be at the moment.
Next, we arranged the raised garden beds that will house every seed imaginable, where they can germinate without the threat of Issy’s four rambunctious feet. Some of the tree stumps left over from this winter’s clearing are flat enough to hold pots full of flowers, and one has a hole through the middle deep enough to plant a flower directly into the stump.
Yesterday, when my husband went to the garden center for soil, he bought Luna Hibiscus, Red Hot Poker Lilies, and Vinca with a delightful pink flower. I had warned him earlier that we may never buy a new plant since I could divide or root everything we need from what we have already planted. But how nice to have something new and already mature. Now I realize I need a plan as I look at these desperate-to-be-planted new plants littering the porch.
My husband will sometimes mentor entrepreneurs from our area, and, inevitably, one of the first questions he will ask is if this entrepreneur has written a business plan. A good business plan, he will tell them, is what allows you to step back and look objectively at the road ahead. And somewhat like my marathon training plans, a plan keeps you on track for reaching your vision. There’s a blank canvas here, however imperfect this canvas may be.
A million rocks and chunks of concrete are buried in the slope by the road where the old rock wall had once been. It makes hard(er) work of planting anything. Ancient ivy vines traverse the garden just under the surface. I pull on them with all my might, and they rip through the new mulch like a sword slicing the earth open. But, on the bright side, massive tree roots sit atop the ground, creating a beautifully rugged contrast. In some places, they serve as practical steps and have helped determine the turns of my garden path. The exposed rock wall remnants are a marvelous backdrop that fills my head with planting dreams.
Two weeks before the marathon one year, I flung myself out of bed from a deep sleep when I suddenly realized one of our dogs was about to toss cookies; in the process, I broke my little toe. I ran that marathon anyway, although it was not my best race. There was another year that I missed the last two long runs because of a family emergency. Nevertheless, I did pretty well in that race – maybe because I was more rested. Of course, with any major endeavor, problems will crop up. But the whole effort of preparing yourself to run a marathon (or start a new business) is a journey, really, rather than a destination. I think the same is true of creating a garden, and anything seems possible.