Fort Garden by Laurel Tarantino

Photo by Laurel Tarantino

Photo by Laurel Tarantino

October 18, 2014

Twenty years ago today we got married in my garden, surrounded by friends, flowers and the sea. It was pure happiness from the start.

Leaving now, I cry. How can I leave my garden? So many hours spent toiling away, with my feathered friends nosing around to see what I may have turned up. I talk to them, the birds, and they enjoy it. They’ll show you when they ruffle their feathers and tilt their heads to listen instead of flying away. I am rewarded with birdsong. I wonder if they’ll miss me, and I hope that they won’t, for I wouldn’t want them to be sad. And then there are the bees. How I love to watch them in their labors. They don’t give me much thought; they only fly to the next flower when my shadow falls on them. Perhaps I envy them their ability to throw their whole selves into a flower. Me, I can only stick in my nose.

So many rewards come from raising your own garden. The first green you see popping up through the ground after a long cold winter. Seems like every day brings a new blossom. So exciting if you like simple pleasures, to be surprised in the spring by the jonquils and tulips that have multiplied underground. What joy it brings a dear friend, a pretty nosegay from your own back yard. I could go on, but you probably don’t want to hear about the big fat worms we have here, or the brown snakes and their secret cache of snail shells.

I decide I’m taking my garden with me; I can’t leave it behind. Too much of me went into it. Too many heirlooms from my mom, sister and brother. I don’t know how, I have no place to put it, but I know it can be done. It’s not winter; it’s early October, the perfect time to transplant .

I will give my garden to my friend Ann. In her yard it will be enjoyed. In her yard, I can visit it from time to time. In her yard, it will not be lost to neglect or swallowed by weeds because it has been left on its own.

This will be an enormous undertaking. I’ll need a lot of help. If I invite my friends to this unusual garden party, will they come? Indeed, they arrive in the early morning mist with hot coffee, pastries and spades. Little Wyatt sits on his mom’s lap under the tent while his dad tends to the removal of flowering shrubs. Lois and Joe start with the phlox that are already resting after a spectacular summer exhibition. In no time my husband is off to Magnolia with the first load of fish totes full of rhizomes and roots.

It’s so odd to see the Butterfly Bush, still in its blooming stage, laying on its side waiting for its ride. I’m surprised at how calm I am. I thought for sure I’d be an emotional wreck, but I’m happy, I’m actually joyous I have such caring friends. Even Tommy got himself up early on a Saturday morning to help. He and Dave manage to get the three hundred pound barnacle-laden anchor into the back of Tommy’s truck. A bit of garden ornamentation that fills the entire truck bed.

The weather has provided ideal conditions for transplanting, With so many hands shaking out roots and separating Asters from Autumn Sedum, the work is done in not time. I find the only difficult moment to be the one where I must split my Bleeding Heart in two. My beloved dog Pal lays at rest under it. Five years has been graced with a beautiful resiting ground. I can only hope this flowering remembrance will persevere.

How I have loved my garden. How I have loved this morning and the chatter of my friends as they’ve toiled. Now it is off to Magnolia to plant their future. At Ann’s the work is a bit more difficult. We have to break ground in soil that hasn’t been disturbed in years, perhaps ever, but it gets done. Jimmy finds spots that the bushes can sink their roots into while others plant the perennials in their new digs. Ann mixes up her special elixir of Neptune’s Harvest and feeds each and every one. I am so pleased everything has gone so smoothly and with so much tremendous good will that I can only believe this has been a positive move and that my garden will flourish and live on. Just as the other half of Pal’s Bleeding Heart will take to its special spot beside our Birdseye memorial.

We break from our labors to enjoy a greatly appreciated and much needed lunch that Ann has prepared. I am blessed. No one is in a hurry to be somewhere else. They’ve enjoyed each other and being here for me, and for this task I’ve handed them. These fine folks gathered around the kitchen were not going to see me leave my garden behind.

Aside, Ann tells me, “You can visit your garden any time now, and once you’re settled, come dig up what you want.”

I tell her it’s hers now, that I thought I’d be sad, but I’m anything but. I’m looking forward to the next chapter in my life, you know the one where I become a famous writer and photographer! But I have to learn a few more adjectives.

I laugh while I sip my Prosecco. The old dreams of a 17-year-old girl are back. Being a photojournalist sounded good back then, and still does on this day, with my toy camera and my ink pens that are given freely at banks. Maybe, just maybe it’ll happen.

For now, I plant a “ring-a-rosey” of Autumn Sedum around the Hydrangea my husband gave me on our first wedding anniversary. Such a lovey day. Such amazing friendships. I have so many surprises to look forward to come spring. I fall asleep to the sound of rain, sweet sweet rain, blessed with another perfect day from beginning to end.

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