Gathering No Moss

Jerry and I are avid gardeners.  (Jerry, truthfully, is a frustrated farmer.)  Sadly, that doesn’t mesh well with our lives forever on the move.  We work insanely to get our gardens laid out and planted just the way we like and we then move before we ever see them mature.  We planted 43 irises in Connecticut one autumn and then moved before seeing them come up in the spring.  At that same house, we hauled in 6 cubic yards of soil and created raised hosta beds under a stand of 75-foot-tall Black Tupelo trees.  The hosta beds were expected to take about four years to reach a respectable maturity.  We moved a year later.  Fortunately, after planting hundreds of daffodils to join the already hundreds of daffodils throughout the gardens, we stayed long enough to see those hundreds multiply into a thousand or more.


We dug up our 1/4-acre in San Diego, rented a gas-powered two-person auger to drill holes in the hard pan (also known as ouklip, the cement-like soil common just below the surface), so we could plant giant timber bamboo along one fence, hauled in dirt and gravel for the rest, created a mini xeriscape paradise for ourselves, and then moved after only two seasons.  The growing season is long and our plants thrived, so we did manage to enjoy the fruits of our labors during that brief time.  We drove by the house recently and were very proud of our work — the ground covers, miniature bottle brushes, purple hopseed bush hedge, the 15-foot-tall yucca out front, the two giant dracaenas flanking the entrance, and the now-50-foot-tall stand of bamboo out back.  We hope the current owners appreciate what we created.  Sadly, they trim most things to within an inch of their lives (a lollypop jungle); few natural shapes allowed in that garden.


We drove by our old hotel property in Palm Springs a few months ago.  The landscaping we did there is finally lush, enormous and spectacular… 10 years later.


Although we’ve been renting a small apartment here in Irvine for the last couple of years, we filled our balcony with plants — a 6-foot-tall ficus, wax-leaf privet, palm, philodendron, succulents of different stripes (well… varieties).  Inside, a spectacular Ming aralia graced the dining room, a rare fern took over the bakers rack in the kitchen.  Out on the balcony, the table and chairs, the outdoor carpet, and all the statuary (the dancing frogs, the alligator, the pig, the Mexican figures) have all been placed in new homes.   The plants continue to thrive, blissfully ignorant of the fact that they could at any moment be tossed aside, passed on (we hope, to loving and more stable homes).


Sunday night, we brought those two remaining houseplants to a good friend not too far away.  She has award-winning gardens.  More importantly, she is loyal and steadfast.  She will not desert them.  Our neighbors took the wax-leaf privet.  Their balcony is small, so that’s all they can manage.  Besides, they told me they both have black thumbs when it comes to plants.  The privet is hardy.  Perhaps it will forgive us.


We can’t wait to get settled in Spain so we can start planting again. 

Author: Moving with Mitchell

From Brooklyn, New York; to North Massapequa; back to Brooklyn; Brockport, New York; back to Brooklyn... To Boston, Massachusetts, where I met Jerry... To Marina del Rey, California; Washington, DC; New Haven and Guilford, Connecticut; San Diego, San Francisco, Palm Springs, and Santa Barbara, California; Las Vegas, Nevada; Irvine, California; Sevilla, Spain. And Fuengirola, Málaga..

9 thoughts on “Gathering No Moss”

  1. Beautiful. Ken and I spend most of our efforts on growing vegetables these days, so the rest of the garden just gets "maintained" and not very "enhanced." But that's ok. The veg garden is very pretty during the summer, and we get food!

    Can't wait to see what you guys do in Spain!

  2. Hello Mitch:
    For over 25 years we gardened in Herefordshire in the UK, so know only too well the amount of time needed to establish fully a garden and to see the fruits of one's labours. We loved it at the time but the work of maintaining 2 acres [which was open to the public] we do not miss.

    We shall be most interested to read what you plan for your new garden and, in many ways, so very exciting to be starting again. We do hope that you will stay, at least long enough to watch it grow and mature!!

  3. The San Diego garden looks lovely. I can totally relate regarding "doing all the work and hen selling". It's rather sad giving away house plants when you can't take them with you, isn't it? We're still to have our new back garden planted out but do have the plans already drawn up. The hard scaping and soft scaping should be done in a few weeks but we're being lazy and have someone else do the heavy work. We'll maintain and add to. It will be interesting for you to learn about the local gardening in Malaga and see what you can create.

  4. Walt: We've never had a vegetable garden. Maybe that's next.
    Jane & Lance: 2 acres is a lot to care for on your own; but what fun it would be plan! We expect it to be terrace/balcony gardens in Malaga.
    Craig: Hope you'll share pictures of your new gardens. I want some vicarious pleasure. Gardening in Malaga shouldn't be difficult to learn; similar climate to Southern California. We recognized just about everything.

  5. I've been know to dig up prized trees and other plants from my garden when moving. Spanish authorities may object, so I guess that's out of the question.

  6. FDeF: LOL. My mother did that when we moved from a house on Long Island to an apartment in Brooklyn. Wonder if the 6-foot ficus will fit in the overhead compartment.

  7. Hi Mitch, I am new here and look forward to your travels and 'see' you soon.and adventures. We too are avid gardeners but like to stay in one spot!
    Nice to meet you

  8. That got a little mixed up…..somehow BLOGGER!
    …..look forward to your travels and adventures. Nice to meet you and 'see'you soon.

  9. Jim: Thanks so much for visiting and for saying "hi." I understood you perfectly! I look forward to getting to know you… and Nova Scotia… through your blogs, too.

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