There’s an irony about my last post being about change. The same day I wrote it Wellyman came home from work to say the words redundancy and relocation. It was almost as if I could feel something in the air. There are numerous permutations of potential outcomes, which are all a bit vague at the moment whilst we wait for decisions from above to be made, but it does mean a fairly substantial period of uncertainty is now ahead of us.
There were so many thoughts whirring around my head and of course the garden featured quite prominently. I felt quite selfish thinking about how my plans for border redesigns were disappearing fast and would I get another growing season on my allotment when livelihoods are at stake. The garden and plot are such fundamental parts of my life though. The joy of being in one place has been the ability to put down roots in both senses of the word.
We’ve been here before on several occasions. One year a move was timed for the end of April and I was determined I wouldn’t miss out on a whole growing season so I went ahead and sowed all manner of seeds as if as normal. We ended up driving what was in effect a mobile greenhouse along the M4. Wellyman didn’t bat an eyelid as yet another seed tray was brought out to the car as he waved off the removal lorry. Before we have lived in rented places with a myriad collection of pots that were easy to move; this time we have a garden that has been built up over time with cherished plants growing happily in the soil.
So the question is how do I tackle the feeling of limbo and approach my plans for the garden and allotment in 2014? I’m the sort of person who likes a plan and I’m happier when I can just get on with what is needed. Having to wait around for others to make decisions about our future is frustrating but I’m hoping my own plan, a strategy for the garden, at least will counter any inclination to procrastinate, and the resulting descent into gardening apathy. The idea of garden border redesigns are out. Instead I think I’m going to rely on annuals. They’re cheap, easy to grow and will put on a good show. They won’t provide the long-term structure I was hoping to introduce but then long-term structure isn’t what I’m looking for now.
A programme of propagation is going to be instigated. (I like the word ‘instigated’ as it gives it all a sense of military precision. The reality will be somewhat different.) Establishing a garden isn’t a cheap process so whilst I don’t want to strip the garden of plants and dig everything up, likewise I don’t want to have to start completely from scratch again. There are also the logistics to think about. Transporting a large number of plants and containers to wherever we end up could be an expensive business. I did hear a story from one of the removals companies where one client had two lorries – one for the furniture, the other for the plants. It might have just been cheaper to buy new plants.
What I have learnt over the last few years is the speed at which most plants grow. I did initially get a bit carried away when I first started planting up the garden. It wasn’t long before I was having to divide plants and I realised I could have probably got away with buying a few less plants. So bearing all this in mind I’m going to proceed a little like Noah and build up an ark of my plants in the greenhouse and cold frames; a couple of each of the plants I most want to take with me. Over the coming weeks I’ll scout around the garden for any self-sown perennials and grasses and plant these up. I’ll also have a nosey about for any plants that are sending out suckers and pot up any which look substantial enough to be moved.
November is the perfect time to take hardwood cuttings and I’m taking notes of prime candidates for this type of propagating. It’ll be good practice as I haven’t needed to take hardwood cuttings since I left college. A hardwood cutting is the perfect way to increase shrubs and trees. If I’m quick and thanks to the mild autumn so far, I might also be able to sneak in some semi-ripe cuttings, which are best taken from late summer to mid-autumn. Then, come the spring, I’ll be poised to divide plants as they spring into life.
Hopefully this strategy will give some focus to my gardening plans over winter. If anyone has any tips on moving a garden I would love to hear them.
I feel for you and the uncertainty and prospect of a move. On the other hand it does give you a great opportunity to design new borders in the next garden. And yes to being resourceful and dividing up herbaceous plants and taking cuttings. If you are ever nr Bristol I have lots of plants that enjoy a split. A weeks notice is all I would need to get you Geranium psilostemon, Adjuga reptans, Festuca glauca etc etc.
There is very much an element of excitement at the possibilities it could open up. Just the fact that it could all be dragged out over 2 years, the multitude of decisions and logistics that fill me with slight dread. :0 That’s such a kind offer and I may well take you up on that at some point.
Change seems to be the only thing that doesn’t change.
Pat Watson said:
Hope all goes well for you. On the garden front, I agree with you about viola cornuta alba, its so obliging.
Pat Watson said:
You should get in touch with Susie White who had to move her entire garden from Chesters in Northumberland to Bridge Eal. The English Garden ran a monthly update.
Thanks for the tip off, Pat. I think I follow Susie on twitter.
I don’t envy you, it will be quite some task to pack up a garden to take with you, but it can be done. I’m sure you’ll have it all under control, you see super organised. My very best wishes for the future, these times of uncertainty can be very trying, I think it’s the not knowing which is worse.
Thank you Jo. I groan at the thought of dismantling a greenhouse we only put up last year and emptying compost bins etc. I seem to have acquired so much garden related paraphernalia over the last 6 years. I’m sure it’ll all work out for the best.
Sophie Cussen said:
Thinking of you both. It’s so utterly frustrating when someone (or company of people) take the choices away from you and you’re left in limbo wondering what will happen next, wondering whether to take a step or not…hang in there. If my little life has taught me anything it’s that these things do happen for a reason which you don’t even know about yet.
I’m not sure if you’re looking for any advice but my gut instinct says keep going with the garden until anything more concrete is set up. That way however frustrated you get at least you’ve got the garden to find some peace in. I reckon that there can’t be anything you couldn’t hand over or dig up if you do need to move. I’ll be keeping all my fingers and toes crossed for you both 🙂
Thanks Sophie, you’re very kind. To be honest the company’s plans are very sensible and should have been done years ago. I agree about things happening for a reason. I guess that’s the scary bit. Most of us like to feel like we’re in some degree of control of our lives at least, the idea we’re not is scary. 😉
I know how you feel; I’ve been planning to move so I’ve spent this summer in limbo. I’m only going to take plants that I cannot be without. It just isn’t feasible to dig up the entire garden. A few times I’ve moved and most of the lorry was filled with plants – that was when we lived in terraces with small yards so I gardened using pots. Easy to take wherever I moved to! I don’t want to do that again though and would rather bite the bullet and just start again. I’ve spent the past 6 years reducing my containers, not just to fill them all again and more so I can take my garden with me.
Plus, part of the fun of moving is getting to design a new space! 🙂 Think of all those lovely websites and catalogues you can spend hours staring at and planning.
I’ve been the same. After years of having to garden in containers and put up with the various problems that brings, having a garden and soil was such a joy, so apart from a few herbs I have barely grown anything in pots since. For me seeing how quickly relatively small plants grew to form good size plants means I don’t want to have to start completely from scratch especially when I know other areas will be eating into any garden budget. I’ll be gutted to leave my topiary balls behind which are probably worth quite a bit now. I agree though the idea of a new space to plan for is exciting.
Kathryn Marsh said:
I’m so sorry this has happened when you had so much planned and had got your personal roots down. Life is very unfair at times. I can only hope that something even better comes out of it all.
In terms of moving the garden you seem to be doing all the necessary things. I did once find myself holding a plant sale because we didn’t move after all and if you are in limbo for the next two years I can see you doing the same whether in aid of yourself or your favourite charity. The only thing I’d add is that circular cut around the roots of bigger things you might want to move to get fibrous roots started for potting up. On a comparatively short move I did do one run for the house contents and another for the garden. These days it would be more like one van for the house and half a dozen for the garden. We’ve had so many moving uncertainties over the years that of late I’ve just gone ahead with what I would do in the garden, including completely overhauling beds, whatever was being planned. There have been very few years of late where what happened was what I expected at the start
Thanks Kathryn. The thought did cross my mind that I could possibly end up with plants in pots and nowhere to put them if we don’t move within a certain time. I might end up with a plant fair too. That’s a good tip about bigger plants. I don’t think there are too many. I’m planning on hardwood and softwood cuttings but I’m wondering if my topiary balls would transplant. They would be worth quite a lot to replace now and I love them.
I feel for you. Uncertainty is the very worst. I admire your approach and hope it gets your through; at least you were able to concentrate on your book before all this happened. Christina
Thanks Christina. Yes it was lucky to have got the book finished before all this came up. It is the uncertainty. I like a plan. 😉 Still I’m sure it’ll all work out over the coming months.
Presumably this was all out of the blue? One can only imagine the thoughts that must have crowded your head when you first heard. You mentioned various potential permutations – putting out the positive intention that it will somehow work out for your benefit would not not do any harm…
Lots of upheaval over the years and we knew more redundancies were on the cards but the decision to close offices was a surprise. I’m sure it will all work out well in the end. It’s just the getting there that can be the problem. 😉
Ah, such a frustrating and painful time. I hope it resolves soon, one way or another, so you can make plans again. We left many favourites in our last (first, fledgling, garden). I dug up some things, but had little time for propagation or rescuing more, and thought it unkind, if not downright wrong, to raid too much. A month or two later, the whole garden had been torn apart and gravelled over. I have no idea what happened to the lovely curly hazel tree that I sacrificed, or the myriad of other prize specimens, but am just grateful that we took as much as we did, raced along the motorway over the space of a few months, to be kindly looked after by family until we were settled.
I really feel for you. Must have been such an awful feeling to discover your lovingly created garden had been so destroyed. Especially after you were thoughtful enough to not dismantle the garden when you moved out. It is frustrating but who knows what will come of it all. Great opportunities I hope.
there’s no harm in taking cuttings, replanning a new garden is a rewarding challenge especially if it is larger than the one you have already incorporating the allotment you would be losing.
A larger garden would be nice. We shall have to see. 🙂
Diana Studer said:
not the redundancy, but I’m in limbo as we wait for our house to sell. I’m also harvesting volunteers and cuttings and bulbs. We know where we are going, it’s smaller, and I already have MANY pots of bulbs. It’s the when that that makes my limbo. I’m blogging and thinking about the new garden while I wait.
It’s good that you know where you’re going to and can plan at least. I’m hoping we don’t have to spend an age trying to sell our home if we need to. Good luck with your move. 🙂
Empathies are winging their way down to you from Scotland. We have been in this position a couple of times in our married life, so I know from – bitter – experience that there’s nothing worse than having your life and location dictated by outsiders. Do hope that you’re out of limbo soon and can at least start to plan, whatever the outcome. In the meantime, ‘bon courage’ to you both.
Thank you. 🙂 It is frustrating isn’t it? Uncertainty seems to be the most certain thing nowadays. Job security and living close to work are not easy to come by. Things tend to work out though, it’s just the getting there. :0
Having moved quite a few times because of husbands job, I wasn’t a keen gardener before moving here. You have started me thinking, what couldn’t I bear to leave behind and I think the main plant to come with me would be my collection of special snowdrops. You are doing the right thing in sowing seeds and taking lots of cuttings, nothing worse to the new people than to find half the garden has disappeared!
It’s strange because I have just planted lots of narcissi and although I will get to see them this spring there is that thought of leaving them and having to start a new collection again. I hope any future owners choose to enjoy them and not concrete over the garden. I can imagine how hard it would be to leave your beautiful snowdrops behind. Would they move? I’m just thinking about my snowdrops. I don’t think snowdrops do well in pots though so perhaps best to leave them.
I think as long as the pots don’t get frosted, the snowdrops should be ok. It would be a shame to leave them if you have some special ones that the next person might not appreciate!
I don’t have any particularly special types, just the common one but there weren’t any in the garden when we moved in and I have tried to build up the numbers. I might put some into pots this spring when they’re in the green. So I have a few to take with me to start off again.
A somewhat pensive post, not surprisingly. I suffered both redundancy and relocation several times, causing anxiety and uncertainty, so I sympathise and hope that it all turns out okay for you both.
I say keep on gardening, and making use of annuals as you plan seems like a good idea to me. Talking of which I’ll have plenty of seeds to spare so I’ll contact you in the New Year to let you know what I have. xx
Thank you Flighty. That’s very kind. I don’t mind getting on with things but it’s the not knowing and having to start afresh somewhere else. It does tend to take me a while to settle again. Hopefully I’ll get another growing season though so I’ll still have my plot for one more year. x
Oh dear, I so understand how you are feeling! I just hope you are not in limbo for as long as I was. Three years is a long time to keep asking yourself “is it worth doing given I will be moving soon”!! Your plan of attack sounds perfect to me, propagating favourite plants is a great way to put a tentative toe in the planning for the future water. Other than that I would say take lots of deep breaths and try to enjoy what you have here and now. You might not have it for much longer! Sowing annuals and still planning to sow fro the allotment makes sense to me while you don’t know what is going to happen, or where you may end up. I really hope it all turns out to be the start of new and wonderful things for you both though. And how exciting that I might well be following yet another blog on someone starting a new garden, we should start a club!!
I remember reading your blog and how frustrated you were by the whole limbo. It must be so lovely now that you’re settled. We’ve been told up to 2 years for everything to be sorted out which seems like such a long time when I have plans to implement. 😉 I might get another growing season on the plot but we should know more by March. I quite like the idea of being able to blog about a new garden. I just hope we can move somewhere we can afford a garden. !!
I have a recently arrived gardening neighbour who brought her garden with her in pots (of all sizes!) and quickly found and cleared a space where she could plant them out. The plants established well over the summer and now she’s contemplating digging them all up again as she wants to move on! (She has a noisy, pot-smoking next door neighbour, most unpleasant.) Annuals are definitely the way to go for next year but change and a move are reminders that everything in this life that we lay claim to is only temporarily ours. I try to remind myself of this when I spend money on the veg garden here as it’s not mine and I can’t even see if from my window!!
I feel for your gardening neighbour. How awful to have moved and then feel you have to move again. Yes, change does seem to be the constant. I had moved 7 times in 8 years at one point so it has been nice to have a chance to settle somewhere. I think that too when I do anything on the allotment. Thrifty is the way to go. :0
Weeding the Web said:
Emma Cooper packed up a garden recently. http://emmacooper.org. Job-wise, I hope you and your husband get the outcome you’d prefer.
Thanks for the tip. Will take a look. I’m sure it’ll all work out.
Oh WW challenging times ahead by the sound of it for you, Wellyman and your garden/allotment dreams. Hard to make plans until you know exactly what’s happening. Hopefully if there is talk of relocation that means that Wellyman will still be in employment 🙂 I’ve been fortunate enough to have been able to put my roots down for many years, so would be most apprehensive if a change of scenery was forced upon me. I think that your taking cuttings approach is most sensible and there is certainly enough rain at the moment for that ark to float. I would also try to think in positive terms about the exciting possibilities a new garden might offer 🙂
Hi Anna, Yes, perhaps I shouldn’t have mentioned the word ark since it hasn’t stopped raining here. :0 Hopefully we’ll know more by March and yes the possibilities of a new garden are exciting.
Charlie@Seattle Trekker said:
I have changed jobs often over my lifetime so I have gotten use to the uncertainty around employment, but my garden is another matter; my garden is the constant in my life. I can’t image if I had to think about starting over someplace else, that would be a lot to think about.
Hi Charlie, We’ve already done a lot of starting over in new places. I can’t say I like it, it takes me a while to settle but hopefully there will be lots of new opportunities. I’ve learnt so much from my first garden so it would be nice to start a new garden and put all of that into practice.
How frustrating to have plans dependent on someone else.
Yes it is rather. It would be nice to not be in that position but very few people are. I’m freelance and I’m just as reliant on others, maybe even more so. Still we’ll get there. 🙂
I really felt for you and WM when I read this, but you know things happen for a reason. Even though the uncertainty is stressful, the planning can be fun. Make sure your cup is half full and start propagating and dividing. Perhaps ask for some topiary Christmas presents and start growing them on in readiness for your next space.
I once read that a garden never really belongs to anyone, rather we get the opportunity to make our mark on a space which hopefully will give us joy. Wherever you go to I am sure that your fellow garden friends will have lots of cuttings or seedlings to share with you. A new space will generate new ideas and we all look forward to reading about them! Good luck to you both.
Thank you so much for your lovely comments. I like that about making a mark on a space. Strangely I’m not especially sentimental about the garden and leaving it behind but I am about the allotment. The allotment has given me so much and opened up opportunities for me I could never have imagined when I took it on. Thank you for your advice about the plants. All great ideas which I will put into action. x
So sorry to hear your news, what a worrying time. I hope they sort of whats happening soon so that you won’t be hanging on. But you sound like you have got a plan to take your mind off it all and keep you going in your garden and allotment.