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A Garden Where There Once Was None

New garden | Happy Simple Living blog

My son and I tackled a big project this summer. We had a vision to create a cool, shady spot under the trees for a small table and chairs.

The location was in a wild, overgrown area of the south side of the house that had always been a jumble of weeds and vines and bushes and sapling trees. Here’s the “before” photo:

New garden before | Happy Simple Living blog

On Demolition Day, my son used a handsaw to cut and clear all of the trees and bushes. I was his assistant, dragging and piling the branches. After several hours, much of the overgrowth was gone and a sense of the new garden begin to take shape. It was a very therapeutic day.

Later, we dug and cut and yanked out smaller stumps and roots. I spent many hours on my knees hacking at the hard clay soil, and began to sense a spiritual parallel.

So I started praying and asked God to clear out the deadwood and weedy, overgrown places in my heart. I asked for help to let go of some things that still weighed on me, and asked for healing of past hurts and disappointments.

At one especially difficult point during this time of hacking and introspection, the ground was so hard I felt like there must be a brick beneath my spade. And guess what?

Digging through clay soil | Happy Simple Living blog

There was a broken brick buried in the ground!

When the stumps and roots (and brick) were cleared, I asked for a renewal and refreshing of my spirit. I prayed for inner peace to foster quiet time and reflection, and a new place for creative ideas to grow.

A neighbor was giving away an eighth-ton of rock, so I loaded three buckets in the back of the Toyota and drove the four blocks to his house. Over three days, I made numerous trips carrying manageable buckets of gravel and spread it in the new place under the trees. It was just the right amount of stone.

We hung a string of lights overhead and a hummingbird feeder in a tree. A bright green metal table and chairs from Target fit right in the space, and a coleus plant added color.

Coleus plant | Happy Simple Living blog

Our dear friends Debbie and John brought us perennial shade plants in memory of my son’s dad and my former husband, Jose, who passed away this year. This is “Sea Heart:”

Sea Heart | Happy Simple Living blog

A stray hollyhock seed blew in and planted itself at the entrance of the garden,  where it bloomed with the showiest fuchsia blossoms all summer.

Hollyhock blossom | Happy Simple Living

The garden is such a peaceful place to drink coffee and listen to the birds and write in my journal.

new garden

Several friends visited throughout the summer, and the space was as cool and pleasant as I once dreamed it might be.

Friends visit our new garden | Happy Simple Living blog

The tiny space will always need maintenance. Vines try to creep back in, and weeds push up through the rocks.

But now there is a small garden flourishing in a place that was once neglected and overgrown, and I am so very grateful.

May you find a clearing amidst the noise, space to grow, and unexpected beauty in the days to come.

About Eliza Cross

Eliza Cross is the author of 16 books, including Small Bites, 101 Things To Do With Bacon, and BERRIES. She enjoys sharing ideas to simplify cooking, gardening, and home projects. She is also the owner of Cross Media, Inc. and founder of the BENSA Bacon Lovers Society.

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10 thoughts on “A Garden Where There Once Was None”

    • Thanks, Aunt Lin. Michael did most of the heavy lifting. Maybe sometime we can sit under the trees together and catch up. Love you! xo

  1. Awww… what a beautiful post. You clear away the weeds, and suddenly there’s room for a flower to sprout. I wish that for all of us.

  2. What a beautiful place you created with all your hard work! It looks like a very peaceful place to write and relax and enjoy! You and Michael created it together and that has to be a great feeling! I’m not sure if I ever sent you condolences for your loss of Jose but know I was thinking of you! I hope the garden brings you many moments of happiness!

  3. This is a beautiful post and the perfect thing to read first thing in the morning. As a resident of the Denver Metro area, I know all too well how difficult that hard clay soil can be to dig through. You and your son did a great job. Here’s to many happy hours in your beautiful, serene garden space.

  4. We have an old over-grown garden out back. No one has cared for it in years. I am now inspired to take on this project with my daughter in the spring. Time to start thinking, planning & dreaming…an English garden, well undersay before the big 60 this May


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