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A Fond Farewell

May 27, 2014

Gburg last bleeding heartEarly on Sunday morning, I closed the door of my Gettysburg townhouse for the last time, put the last of the trash out by the curb, and drove away to Maine. Unlike previous May departures, which were usually just for the summer, this time I was moving to Maine to live full-time – which meant giving up my little Gettysburg garden. This garden has brought me a great deal of pleasure, and I stopped to wish it a fond farewell.

Before I got in the car, I walked around the garden to take pictures of how it looked at this moment in late May. In the flower bed under the bow window at the front of the house, the old-fashioned bleeding heart (Lamprocapnos spectabilis) was still in its dominating glory, and the ‘Biokovo’ geraniums (G. x cantabrigiense) were just beginning to open their first flowers. In the back, the volunteer columbines by the patio were looking blowsy, beginning to drop their petals and go to seed. The larger back flower bed was a leafy oasis, with bold hosta foliage taking center stage. In a few days, the front of this bed will be a mass of frothy white and pink ‘Biokovo’ flowers.

gburg last columbines Biokovo02

Two days earlier, I had dug up and/or divided 9 different plants to take with me to Maine. These included some plants that I don’t have in Maine, some that were not doing well in the Gettysburg garden, and some that I just wanted more of in Maine. Here is the list of plants that I took with me:

  • Olallie StarDaylily ‘Olallie Star’ (new to my Maine garden)
  • Daylily ‘Autumn Minaret’ (I have this in Maine, but the Gettysburg plant was not getting enough sun to bloom well)
  • Daylily ‘Bisque’ (a late-season yellow cultivar that was not doing well in Gettysburg and that will be new to my Maine garden)
  • A small bare-root division of forsythia (a lemony yellow cultivar that I do not have in Maine)
  • A division of daylily ‘Orange Bounty’ (I have this in my Maine garden, but would love to have more)
  • A division of daylily ‘Happy Returns’ (I love this plant and am happy to add more of it to my Maine garden)
  • A division of Hosta ‘June’ (another beautiful plant that I will be happy to have more of in Maine)
  • A division of pulmonaria (new to my Maine garden)
  • A division of Sedum spectabile ‘Neon’ (also new to my Maine garden)

Since I didn’t have room for all these plants in my car, I packed them carefully in a box and shipped them to myself. They should arrive in a couple of days.

I had an opportunity to meet the young couple who will soon be moving into this house on the day when they came to look at the place. While we were chatting, I asked if they were, by any chance, gardeners. The husband immediately answered, “Yes,” and the wife said, “Well, we want to be gardeners.” I have their email address from the landlord and intend to send them some information about the plants growing here. It makes me happy to think that others will continue to develop and love this garden.

gburg last back flowerbed

39 Comments leave one →
  1. May 27, 2014 4:53 pm

    So sad, but I’m glad you were able to take a few things with you and that the new occupants will learn to love a garden as well.

    • June 1, 2014 9:47 pm

      Sarah, Thanks for visiting. I’ve never had the emotional attachment to this garden that I have to my Maine garden. I began this garden as a way to get a “gardening fix” during the months away from Maine, and it ended up being a special treat in spring and fall. I would have hated to see it fall into neglect, however, and am happy that the new tenants have an interest in it.

  2. May 27, 2014 5:21 pm

    Bittersweet memories. A new world opens.

    Sent from my iPhone


    • June 1, 2014 9:48 pm

      Linda, It is bittersweet. I’m excited to be living in Maine full-time (something I haven’t been able to do for the past 25 years), and I’m looking forward to spending more time in my Maine garden.

  3. May 27, 2014 5:44 pm

    Oh, Jean. What a moment that must have been. As difficult as it might have been, how wonderful that you could take parts of the garden with you and that the young couple are interested in gardening. Best if luck with your permanent move!

    • June 1, 2014 9:50 pm

      Thanks, Diane. I’ve been looking forward to this move for a long time, and it is exciting. I’m looking forward to new adventures in my Maine garden, and I love the fact that it will include memories of my Gettysburg garden.

  4. May 27, 2014 6:27 pm

    Jean, I am sure your garden will continue to bring happiness to people! I’m glad you took some plants with you. It is a bit sad to leave a place that you love, but I strongly believe that all our gardens live forever in our hearts.

    • June 1, 2014 9:51 pm

      Tatyana, It pleases me that this garden might bring happiness to someone else. Over the years, I’ve given away plant divisions from my Gettysburg garden to many friends and co-workers in Gettysburg, so there are little pieces of the garden living on in others gardens — as well as in my Maine garden.

  5. Niki venter permalink
    May 27, 2014 6:50 pm

    Jean, I have been in Maine for a week and look forward to your return and meeting your new arrivals. Niki

    • June 1, 2014 9:53 pm

      Niki, It’s great to hear from you. I am trying to get myself organized. My life will be chaotic this summer as my long-planned addition gets built, but I’d love to get together.

  6. May 27, 2014 6:52 pm

    Leaving behind something you love is always so hard. Isn’t it good to know that you are taking part of it with you physically, as well as taking all of it in your memories. I hope your garden in Maine will bring you as much happiness singly as the two gardens have brought doubly. Best wishes.

    • June 1, 2014 9:54 pm

      Pat, Many of the plants in my Gettysburg garden were divisions that I brought back with me in fall from my Maine garden, so the two have always been linked for me. I have big plans for a whole new front garden in Maine, and I’m looking forward for more time to tend and enjoy both my old and new Maine gardens.

  7. May 27, 2014 9:22 pm

    Best wishes for your move! I used to move twice a year, winter’s at university, summers here on Beaver Island. When that changed,it didn’t really hit me until that first autumn.

    • June 1, 2014 9:56 pm

      Cindy, I think it will hit me in mid-summer. Usually, I start feeling the new semester breathing down my neck shortly after 4th of July; this year, that will feel like early summer. I’m looking forward to being able to dig and plant new flower beds in fall and to doing a leisurely spring clean-up next year.

  8. May 27, 2014 9:46 pm

    One door closes and another one opens. 🙂 Here’s to a great summer of Maine gardening. 🙂

    • June 1, 2014 9:58 pm

      Judy, Yes; and that new door opening is very exciting. It’s lovely to be back in my Maine garden.

  9. May 28, 2014 12:02 am

    It’s difficult to leave a garden behind, even to start a new chapter in your life. I’m glad you took time to collect some plant divisions to bring with you – that can only help in supporting the fond memories you have of your Gettysburg townhome. It’s also great to know that the new residents have an interest in sustaining what you built there. Enjoy yourself as you dig into your garden in Maine! I’ll be interested to see the progress on the projects you’ve begun there.

    • June 1, 2014 9:59 pm

      Kris, It is nice to know my Gettysburg garden will be in loving hands. I’m excited to dig into new garden projects in Maine. Ground breaking on my new addition should happen in the next couple of weeks.

  10. May 28, 2014 1:51 am

    Ah Jean! Here’s to a whole new beginning! I suspect you will thrive on retirement, because switching off your mind or your body is just not part of your idea of what retirement is 🙂

    • June 1, 2014 10:01 pm

      Jack, As you know, I’ve been looking forward to this new chapter in my life for quite a while now. Today, I was working on my to-do lists for a new month and realized that, for the first time, a whole category of items labeled “Work” have dropped away — leaving more room for the category labeled “Garden” 🙂 .

  11. May 28, 2014 7:01 am

    Hi there Jean – sorry that you are having to say goodbye to your beloved garden, but what a relief you are at least leaving it in the hands of enthusiasts. Here’s to your other garden – look forward to hearing about it! Kind regards Ursula

    • June 1, 2014 10:03 pm

      Ursula, Although my Gettysburg garden brought me happiness, it is my Maine garden that is truly beloved — and I will now have the time to love it more devotedly.

  12. May 28, 2014 7:21 am

    Jean how hard to say goodbye to your garden but you are bringing it with you which is the best of both worlds…I agree that the new occupants will love the garden you have left and continue to now put their touch on it…I expected you would take many daylilies…wishing you well as you settle in to your new permanent home.

    • June 1, 2014 10:05 pm

      Donna, You noticed that my list of moved plants was heavy on daylilies 🙂 . At least one of the ones I divided was originally a division from my Maine garden, and now I’ll get to add more of it to that garden. Getting organized and settled in is a bit daunting, but I’m just trying to pace myself and get a little done every day. I hope your surgery went well.

  13. May 28, 2014 9:48 am

    I totally understand your feelings since I am in the same boat – leaving a garden I spent years on. It’s nice to hear that the new occupants are aspiring gardeners – it means the plants you leave behind have a fighting chance. I worry about my garden’s future, although it will soon officially be none of my business.

    • June 1, 2014 10:18 pm

      Sarah, I think my circumstances are probably easier than yours — since the garden I’ve spent years on is the one I’ve come home to. I was trying not to worry about what would happen to my Gettysburg garden after I left — but, of course, the future of something we created is hard to treat as “none of your business.” I was delighted when I learned that the aspiring gardeners had decided to rent the place. I hope your garden finds itself in good hands, too. Will you be able to take some plants with you?

  14. May 28, 2014 7:05 pm

    Your post completely resonated with me. I’m relieved I was able to leave my northern garden during the winter, so I wouldn’t have to see the plants in full bloom. I know how relieved you must be to know that you’re leaving your garden in hands that want to learn and get dirty. And I am sooooo looking forward to reading posts from your new retired life in Maine. Be well!

    • June 1, 2014 10:19 pm

      Kevin, And I’m looking forward to having the time to write those new posts 🙂 . (I’m trying to get into a schedule that includes time every day for writing.)

  15. Linda permalink
    May 28, 2014 8:22 pm

    I look forward to hear about your new adventures living full time in Maine.

    • June 1, 2014 10:19 pm

      Linda, And I’m looking forward to having those new adventures! 🙂

  16. May 31, 2014 10:28 am

    Jean, When I read this post, I thought you must have retired! While I will miss your pictures and posts on your Pennsylvania garden, I wish you the best in retirement and look forward to seeing posts on your Maine garden.

    • June 1, 2014 10:21 pm

      Kathy, It’s done! Although I am officially on the payroll until next January, I am retired in everything but name. I’m officially having an “end-of-career sabbatical” — put I’ve retired from teaching and moved out of my office. It’s an exciting new chapter.

  17. June 1, 2014 9:14 pm

    That must be difficult, but what a great idea to take plants with you!

    • June 1, 2014 10:23 pm

      Rebecca, I’ve been planning this move for a long time. Even as I created the garden in Gettysburg, I knew I would be leaving it behind in a few years. For me, taking a few loved plants from one garden to the next is a good way to smooth the transition.

  18. June 6, 2014 9:09 pm

    Moving on is such a difficult experience but this sounds like it went so well for you. I was pleased to read that you met the new tenants and they will be happily taking over your garden. That must have felt good. and despite the sadness of leaving Gettysburg you must be extremely pleased to think of living full time in Maine.

    • June 9, 2014 9:05 pm

      Marguerite, I think “bittersweet” is a good description of this move — but more sweet than bitter. I’ll miss Gettysburg most in spring, which is a sublime season there. But the payoff of getting to spend more time and energy in my Maine garden is more than worth it.

  19. June 9, 2014 8:59 pm

    I do know how it is to leave a garden that you have tended and that has given its rewards over and over. I’ve just given up a garden in the Northeast but instead of heading further North, I’ve gone in the other direction…..very different garden. I love the photographs of the familiar plants – beautiful!

    • June 9, 2014 9:07 pm

      Jayne, Your move sounds exciting. I never took as much advantage of my Gettysburg garden as I could have to grow plants that won’t grow in my Maine climate. I was more inclined to ward off homesickness by filling it with divisions of plants from my Maine garden. Enjoy your new garden in your new, warmer climate.

  20. June 12, 2014 4:35 pm

    Hi Jean, I left my old garden at the end of February and it was cold, miserable, very wet and soggy. I felt very sad to be leaving the old maturing garden and moving on to a brand new, much bigger one. Like you, I had brought a whole host of plants with me, but so many were left behind that you wouldn’t notice. It’s very encouraging to know that the new people moving in want to be gardeners and are keen, the makes the parting easier knowing that the garden will be looked after and not neglected.

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