If I were to sum up my life right now in one word it would be this:
The garden is coming into peak season with cabbages sizing up, the first peppers appearing, herbs branching, and flowers blooming.
The foliage is now so thick in some places that my garden “rooms” feel as enclosed as an actual room inside our home.
But it’s not just the cold hardy kiwi offering all the structure and interest anymore.
The espalier arches, that I started from crab apple cuttings two years ago, have begun to give shape to the “hallways” between the rooms.
The tri-colored willows, from last summer, now paint a pretty picture behind the bird cage and contemplative bench seat (that doubles as a drainage infiltration basin). And the Bonfire patio peaches, recently planted, are adding so much visual interest to my row vegetable area.
In my newish front garden, the crusher run granite and inexpensive concrete blocks have taken on an aged patina making them seem more old world and at peace with this place.
In fact, everything is so stunningly settled, that even though I planned and implemented all of these elements, I keep having the Talking Heads experience.
It simply seems unbelievable that our landscape today is the same one we moved into in 2014.
How is it even possible that the fence that once stood out like an eye sore, is now nearly invisible amid the verdant growth?
I also continue to find it hard to fathom how much beautiful, delicious food can come from spaces that provide so much year round pleasure — with less work than it used to take me to maintain a suburban lawn.
In truth, I know exactly how we managed this – incrementally over time — using concepts learned from Permaculture and nature. Plus we added in decorative and lifestyle supporting details to make our edible landscape an outdoor living area as well.
It wasn’t an epic weekend makeover. It’s been 9 years of passionate, pleasurable, conscientious cultivation to create this lush landscape we call home.
Of course, we also made mistakes, had to change course and redo things, and often wasted time and money due to wishful thinking and poor planning.
For example, by the time I learned how to effectively grow a diverse garden in a greenhouse it was nearly time to replace every panel. At a price tag twice as high as our original cost to purchase, we’ve decided not to buy more plastic that will just end up in the landfill some day. So…
Now we use our greenhouse as a lovely covered patio with bistro seating.
Thankfully, even in it’s present state of disrepair, the greenhouse still offers a place of peaceful retreat from inclement weather. It just can’t house frost sensitive plants any more.
Our landscape, though, isn’t the only part of my life that is lush – in the “lavishly productive” sense.
I am also approaching my 5 month anniversary of being back to work at my prior law firm after an 8 year career shift. And I am having a similar challenges reconciling the law firm landscape I used to work in with the present environment I am actively engaging in.
This new professional landscape is so much bigger and more complex than the small area of law I used to inhabit. Settling into it very much resembles the kind of scaling up of skills and experience that were necessary to establish our Epicurean homestead.
Yet there is also this conflicting sense of going back to a landscape I helped design, grow and improve. And so much of the infrastructure I put in place is still there. And still, in the intervening years, countless new things have been planted by others, taken root, and matured.
Between remote work, a larger group, more offices, a lengthier list of software applications and service departments to engage with — the professional landscape today is as startling to me in its difference as the before and after photos above. But unlike my landscape here, I was not a participant in the incremental change as it happened.
So, I have had to shift my mind set from “going back” to “starting anew”.
Truthfully though, that makes it so much more fun because I get to desk travel to an exciting new world outside our homestead every day when I log in. This adds new layers of richness, connection, and meaningful experience to the lush landscape of my life.
Happy Almost Summer!