Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Moving a garden

Several homes that I regularly drive by have sold recently, even in this bad economic climate people are on the move, probably some moving for exactly that reason. I’ve read the average American moves 11.7 times in a lifetime. I guess I’m “above average" since I’ve lived in 13 different homes and I’m only (big scary number removed to protect the innocent) years old.

Watching the transformation, as the person who planted and tended the garden leaves and a new person makes the place theirs, has me thinking about the process of leaving an established garden behind. How do people do it? I’m sure there are a lucky few who move at the right time. When they’ve realized all the possibilities of their current garden and are ready for new challenges. I hope when the time comes that we move that’s the place I’m at.

I just noticed the above for-sale-sign last night. This is obviously a person who cares about their garden; everything is so lush and cared for. How will they leave it behind?
During the frantic few weeks before our move to Portland I was either packing, leaving the house so prospective buyers could tour through, visiting with friends I was leaving behind, or digging in the garden. A neighbor stopped to say how impressed she was that in the midst of preparing to move I was finding time to work in the garden. No not working, I was digging and potting up the plants I couldn’t bear to leave behind; they spent an entire year in those pots while we were in a rental house, looking for our current home. Thankfully they all survived. It means so much to me that I can look around and see plants from earlier gardens, now at home in this garden. These hosta began as container plants on an apartment balcony; this is the fourth time they have traveled with me to a new home.
Needless to say my collection has expanded; I am rather invested in this space and can’t imagine leaving it behind. Have you moved and left a garden behind? How did you decide what to take? Or did you leave it all behind and start over?


  1. We are moving in a few months and already I have about 300 potted plants! Well where I live plants are very expensive-that's about 8000 dollars worth so no way I could afford to "start over" a new garden. Still need to dig up a couple trees and also start some more plants from cutings.

  2. I am sure the gardener would have spent a number of years tending the garden. So, it would be hard to leave those beautiful plants behind ;-( Firstly the emotional attachment and secondly it takes time to re-grow new plants. I would do what you did... re-pot as many plants as possible to take them to the new house ;-) Btw, before I move into this house, I wasn't a keen gardener, hence has only a few potted plants. So no problem moving. Have a wonderful day!

  3. AnonymousJuly 08, 2009

    I moved from SE Portland to NE Alabama 2 years ago this August. When the time is right, the move is easy, but oh how I wish I could go back and visit my garden once in a while. I had removed all the grass except for a very small patch in the back yard. It was the house my grandparents built and my Danish grandmother had done wonders with the soil.

    I just didn't have time to do what I advised other people to do and I do regret that. I decided to move in January and was here by August. Lots of packing because I'm a "collector" and just no time to take cuttings, etc. Also, because of the distance I was driving and the summer heat and the very crowded car I was very limited.

    Managed to bring some things my grandmother had in the yard when I moved to Portland in 1977 - fragrant hosta, varigated iris (smells like grape), 2 roses and from my plantings a few sedums and a lilac sucker that I'm worried I may have just pulled out when I weeded huge weeds from what used to be a dump and I'm trying to turn into a garden.

    Now I have 2 acres of grass less the space for the house, driveway and patio and an acre of woods that are in a ravine and overgrown with invasive honeysuckle, privet, wisteria - oh, yes! let's not forget the poison ivy that is carpeting the woodland floor.

    But I love it here. Rolling foothills of the Appalachian mountains - reminds me a lot of western Oregon, actually.

    Barbara H.

  4. A couple years ago, we considered moving to Brooklyn, NY. I was looking for a place with at least a tiny outdoor space of some sort, either a patch of ground or a little balcony, which proved nearly impossible unless you had 7 figures to spend. It was summer, and I was sitting there with the breeze blowing through the garden, and I just looked around and thought, there's no way I'm leaving this for a small expensive apartment with no garden at all. And so we stayed. Maybe it would be different if we found a place with gardening potential, but so far, I've been unable to tear myself away from this place I've worked hard on, and still have so much more to do.

  5. Nicole, 300 pots!? $8,000!? Wow. I am very impressed you've potted up so many plants, your garden must be amazing. Do you already know where you are going to?

    Stephanie, that's it exactly...the emotional and the financial, both are tough! Hopefully you will be staying put where you are for a while?

    Barbara, an across country move and from a family home, that must have been difficult. When we moved down here my husbands car was towed behind the U-haul and it was completely full of plants. I can't imagine if I didn't have all that space what I would have done. I hope you get to visit your old garden someday, but going back can be a double edged sword too can't it? If you don't like what the new owners have done I mean.

    Megan, well I for one am glad that you didn't move to NY! You are so lucky to have put down deep roots so early in a place that you still love.

  6. We are flirting with the idea of moving. And I'm just getting my garden going. I was thinking the same thing lol, would I did that up???

  7. Ah, the trauma! I gave pieces of my garden to everyone who would take something, and left the rest behind.

    I did bring the things I thought would survive. I've lost most of those to the dry, dry desert.

    But I'm collecting new things now. We are in a rental, so I'm sure you can picture the pots!

  8. It's been almost a year since I left my previous, established garden for a move across town. The entire process has been documented exhaustively on my blog, and I'm sure everyone is sick of hearing about it by now. :-) I was emotionally ready for the move and took many favorite plants with me. What I wasn't prepared for, in this economy, was not being able to sell the old house and still having to take care of the old garden, when I'm ready to turn it over to someone else and devote all my attention to the new place.

  9. MTJ, a big move? Flirting is a good way to start, you don't want to just jump right in!

    Jenn, I've read a bit about your move on your blog. That is quite the change! My brother moved to Phoenix from Spokane, I know he went through a similar thing. He brought plants that he lost to the dry heat, it's such a different world there.

    Pam I thought of you while I was writing that post. I've read about parts of your move but not made the time to go back and start at the beginning, I should do that. For some reason I thought it was more than a year ago. I cannot imagine the work in keeping two gardens going not to mention the emotional (and financial) strain of the house not selling. This economy has to turn around sometime soon!


Thank you for taking the time to comment. Comment moderation is on (because you know: spam), I will approve and post your comment as soon as possible!