Gardening: Death in the Garden

GardeningBy David McMullin

I’ve just come in from my garden – inspecting its successes and failures after a mercifully accommodating summer with real rainfall, and at first I didn’t mind the heat – until August, but I find August is never good-natured.

All in all, the garden was minimal in efforts this year. Not that I didn’t lose some plants, I always do, but instead of a lack of sufficient water, this year’s loss was from fungus and rot and what I like to call, “up-and-die disease.” I try not to get too frustrated. It’s to be expected. There is always death in the garden

It actually sweetens the experience of gardening. What I mean is, gardeners live for little “moments” of time. There lies the real beauty and perfection in our garden. We realize that “moments” fade, evolve, recur and transform, just as they do in our lives. Autumn is keenly aware of this and death is the boss in this season. With death, come space and the magical power to transform big into small and full into empty. Death in the garden provides us with opportunity and even clarity.

This new space breeds imagination. Things die; new things replace them. It’s an old story. This may seem dark, but actually I’m enlightened and feeling refreshed. That’s why I garden… the story of the cycles of birth and death and rest and work are told in the garden with every season. If there were no death in the garden, then how would I incorporate all my new plant desires and design inspirations?

Earlier pictures of my now-old garden show a much different space and intent than what I’ve eventually settled on. My plans for my garden were never etched in stone. I inadvertently fell into a dialog with success and failure and followed success while failure did the editing. Now I have some wisdom built around this process that I might not have found in my early days.  In the garden, (as in life), listen, wait, consider and respond. Know when to lead and know when to follow.

And, I’ll gladly follow September out of this very hot summer. I wonder what autumn will bring?

David McMullinDavid McMullin, an acclaimed garden designer, has owned New Moon Gardens design firm for 20 years. His gardens have been featured on tours, in magazines and on television. David recently ventured into retail, opening Garden*Hood, the newest garden center destination located in Grant Park. For more information on his design services, contact David at newmoongardens@gmail.com or (404) 593-0996.

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