Thursday, April 11, 2024

Complicated - but there's always the garden!

Since my last post life has been complicated. 
I want my days to be like my bits and bobs around the house, neat, clean, organized, tidy and in top working order. Instead, these days, and past several weeks, I've been inundated with home projects, some planned, others nasty surprises, ranging from emergencies, to 'fix its' that are not actually broken but "let's do it now and be safe rather than sorry later".

I'm not going into the sordid details, just know nothing lasts forever in a home be it plumbing, electrics, roofs, outdoor structures, or even perfect gardens. Things age, wear out, break, disintegrate, fall off, blow away . . . . . . and even grow too big to manage, like 100 ft oak trees and 10 ft azalea shrubs. Who knew that taking down a tree that size might some day cost $5,000! Our biggest tree still stands and we say a little prayer when the wind picks up, wondering why the builder didn't clear the land before sitting our little house on it forty years ago. The azaleas we embrace and love their huge size with thousands of blooms right now.

As homeowners we sometimes turn a blind eye to maintenance issues, especially those of us who know very little about building and the length of time products last before dripping, cracking, corroding etc.  At times like this I wonder why I didn't decide to spend my life married to a plumber/electrician/sheetrock/painter/handyman. Even better a general contractor who could help out with everything in the home requiring attention and, with a snap of his fingers, have a reliable service person there with the right tools, a working pickup truck (that doesn't drip oil on the driveway!), who uses tarps and drop cloths and eventually fixes everything perfectly . . . . . . . and doesn't talk down to me or make me cry!
Are you getting the picture here?  

Yes, it's my garden and I love it. I sometimes complain wishing we could move to a new place with no repairs, less maintenance, no garden to weed, on one level with no stairs, no lawn to mow, no large trees to fall on us when the winds pick up . . . . . . . . . . .  and then I recall the months stretching into years of the pandemic and how having a garden perhaps saved my life.  All those days spent in the garden, on the front porch, back deck, away from the mosquitoes in the screened gazebo, were days I remember with love. The garden was my safe haven while the world was in turmoil.
Gardens here are at their peak of loveliness right now - the southeast brings a springtime where everything blooms profusely. It was my reason for moving here all those years ago when Bob's company flew me down to Raleigh in April 1977 for a weekend to look around - he was already working here - to see if I liked it and would want to make my home here.  I fell in love and had no doubts about living here . . . . . . . knowing immediately I would so enjoy having a real garden like I had in England as a child.


  1. Dearest Mary,
    Well, there are no fairy–tale homes and/or gardens. Only in magazines for the moment!
    Always things to clean up, to orden and organize, to paint, repair and on and on.
    So far I've been very blessed with my Pieter who has golden hands and can literally do anything. But he's too frail and weak now and we are at times dreaming about a simpler life. The previous home had no staircase... that would right now be so welcome to both of us! Pieter nearly collapses when climbing the stairs and I still have to hold on to both side rails for making it down and up. But we 'manage'.
    Indeed, the azaleas, dogwoods and others are like a dream here in the South.
    Still not really ready to accept that we're this far into April already...
    Big hugs,

  2. Oh Mary, I'm sorry you're having such a difficult time with home repairs and contractors. Our home needs a lot of work right now and I dread having it done. I hate having contractors in my house. It's so disruptive and messy and anxiety-producing. And expensive! Like you, sometimes I wish we could just pick up and move...maybe to a townhouse? But I know that's not "perfection" either. There's still repairs and there's also HOA fees. Yes, your gardens are beautiful and I hope they can be a refuge to you right now. Sit in your beautiful gazebo and meditate and take deep breaths. {{hugs}}

  3. When it comes to projects in and around the house, I am useless - I just want everything to stay as it is and HATE the disruption, dirt and upheaval such things invariably bring with them. When I had my bathroom done, I moved to my sister's for the time - I can't live in a place without a working toilet, even if I could make do without a shower for a short while. When I swapped my bedroom and living room and had the walls painted etc., I was able to do it very much at my own pace and only had myself to look after - I don't know how families do such things, where no matter what else is going on in the house, regular meals etc. have to be provided.
    Hopefully, things have settled now at your lovely cottage, and you can enjoy your garden to the full.
    The world is still in turmoil, and your garden is still your safe haven.

  4. Your garden is looking so lovely, lots of colour and greenery. It is hard, as I have found this last year, when all the 'things' descend upon you and need dealing with. Power through Mary, things will look brighter!

  5. I can relate to wishing I spent my life with a handyman. My cottage is such a "fixer upper" that it's overwhelming. I don't have the budget for a lot of repairs, but I try to maintain when I know how! Your garden is so beautiful, take care Mary. ♥

  6. Dear Mary - I too share many similar thoughts to you. Ideally we should really move to a far smaller property, but I can't even contemplate that, so I plod on.
    Since the pandemic all costs have risen sky high here and continue to do so seemingly every month.
    Keep your spirits up - I know that you will get there - carry on enjoying your beautiful garden💙

  7. I like reading Northern Hemisphere blogs because the world differs so much from one hemisphere to another. Gardens where you are seem to be at their peak of loveliness in springtime where everything blooms all over the place. In Melbourne we haven't had any cold weather yet but of course everyone knows what is coming in the next few months.
    Nonetheless, your title is correct: there's always the garden. Even in cold weather, I put on a parka and a hat.. and go to coffee via the beautiful garden. Rain might drive us crazy, but it makes the garden look sensational.

  8. Oh boy, yes I think I am getting the picture and I don't like what I see. All that and being talked down to is a sad state of affairs and I am sorry you are dealing with it. Thankfully you have your beautiful garden to escape to when it all feels a bit overwhelming. It sure does look beautiful.

  9. Dear Mary,
    Everything does fall apart eventually and need repair. I'm sorry that so many things are happening at once in the house and garden. Your garden is a beautiful place and brings you so much joy and peace. Although Tim worked in health care administration for most of his career, he began as a journeyman carpenter, so I consider myself blessed. I sometimes wish he WOULD hire others to do some of the work, but he insists that he is able, and he is, so I hold my tongue.
    Hang in there, Mary, and enjoy this beautiful spring in your corner of the world.

  10. Everything has its pros and cons. Sure living in a house with a garden is work but it pays off with the enjoyment of the garden. Your garden is lovely. Certainly some days are difficult.. No matter how you take it life is difficult and we are called every day to make many decisions with positives and negatives we constantly make choices❤️🌷🌼..

  11. I know exactly how you feel Mary as we just found out that we need to have a new boiler 😱. One is constantly maintaining the house. But Oh My Goodness ...... your garden is just so beautiful ..... it puts mine to shame.Your tree is gorgeous and such a profusion of colour. My excuse is that ours is North facing so lots of plants don't grow so well. I am sticking with green and white with a bit of pink and purple. Lastly, if you could just wrap that lovely white jug and the iron table up and send them both to me, I would be most grateful 🤣😂🤣 XXXX

  12. It´s always a hard work with house and a garden! Sometimes I wish a small house and a tiny garden...
    Your garden is so beautiful and green!
    Love from Titti

  13. Yes, the cost of taking down a big tree is insane. Our big tree really needs major work, but it would also be at least $5000. We had several branches fall from it this year onto our greenhouse roof. It is a fine line between "do we stay or do we go". Take care, dear ones.


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