|5909 Athlone - Kerrisdale|
Gardens have been a part of my life since I can remember. First it was my mother’s garden in Buenos Aires, then her garden in Mexico City.
The first was the scene for a few of my birthday parties, the second where I experimented with explosives and uprooted one of her roses.
The third was in our little house in Arboledas, Estado de México. This was the first I shared with my Rosemary. It was there where I watched her and my mother garden without much interest on my part.
Once in Vancouver our little house in Burnaby had an even smaller garden and Rosemary decided by 1986 that we would buy a corner lot house with a big garden.
In our first year as we learned to garden we had a spooky
respect for its former owner, Mrs.Young who had been on her back for a day in the kitchen
after a heart attack and was found alive. We saw her as a ghost in the garden
and we did little to move any of her plants.We thought it important to respect her plant choices and design.
One day we decided the garden was ours. But we divided the garden into Rosemary’s sections and my section. There were her plants and my plants. We had arguments about the weedy behaviour of some of her perennials or that my hostas were crowding out her plants.
Eventually we saw the light and the garden became firmly
ours. From that point on Rosemary became a Master Gardener, we signed up at garden
clubs and gardening was a big part of our life. For a few years I even wrote a monthly
garden column for the local Western Living Magazine. There were bus tours from the US that came to see our garden which made it one month into Better Homes and Gardens.
The garden was a happy refuge for us where we enjoyed watching our two granddaughters, Rebecca and Lauren grow up.
But five years ago our garden expenses and upkeep had made the plumbing in the interior of our beautiful home deteriorate. I urged Rosemary that we had to sell. We sold and bought our little duplex in Kitsilano. Rosemary was unhappy for at least the first two years even though we managed to have over 40 old roses and many of her perennials in it. Most of our hardy Gallica Roses and other plants like big hostas we transported in a ŕnted truck to our eldest daughter’s one acre property in Lillooet. In the last couple of years and particularly in the months before Rosemary became sick and died Ale’s (Alexandra) garden became a source of joy for my wife who had the land she so much wanted and had lost in our little duplex.
|Rosemary and Ale in Lillooet - 2020|
In our duplex we had our differences of opinions. I harangued her for how her fennel was taking over the laneway rose garden. She said my hostas were too big and had to be divided so she could plant more perennials. Those moments of disagreement were not bad but now I regret anything unkind that I might have said to her.
But worse of all, and here is the real focus of this long blog, is that as the weather improves and I find myself cleaning up the deck and beginning to prune some of the roses, her absent presence is more than I can bear. Every plant, every part of the garden is one where I see her and her gentle hand scooping dirt and asking me to help her take out a plant with the spade.
In our Kerrisdale garden, it was our garden. It was our garden in the winter and in lovely sunlit summers. This Kitsilano garden, now not quite waking up to a forthcoming spring is bleak in my eyes. I try to avoid looking at it. Perhaps this will change with the buds appearing on our roses.
I am now confused. Is this her garden still? Is it our garden still? Will she be a ghost like Mrs. Young was in our first year in Kerrisdale? Will I be able to overcome this all and make my garden a lovely garden in the memory of my Rosemary?
Time will tell.