Farewell garden, and I thank you

The long-running saga of our house move is drawing towards a conclusion. It looks likely that we’ll be moving just before Christmas (not very good timing for a minister, but there you go).

I have completed my checklist of gardening tasks, and can now report that the garden is ready for the move. I have:
– dismantled and sold the trampoline
– dismantled the swing seat
– drained and disconnected the water butts
– dismantled my hermitage in the shed and tidied the shed
– emptied a compost bin and put it out for the rain to wash, along with another that was already empty
– weaned the birds off their reliance on me and dismantled the feeders
– taken up the frames of two of the raised beds (the other has been empty all year – in the Spring we thought we’d be moving in July, so I haven’t grown any veg this year)
– pruned everything that should be pruned at this time of year, except for 2 rose bushes who’ve been fooled by the mild November and are still in bloom
– pulled ivy off the fences

I nearly didn’t do the ivy. Normally that’s a mid-winter job, when there isn’t so much else to do. But I expect my old churches will rent the house out, and it’s not the sort of job a tenant is likely to do, and the ivy wrecks the fences. The neighbours on both sides of the garden are very fond of ivy and it grows like mad in these shady, mature gardens.

Clearing ivy was the first job I ever did in this garden. At the time, we were living in temporary accommodation 10 miles the far side of the city from our churches and schools, and it was truly dreadful. We had been there 4 months and while some work had been done to this house over the autumn, weeks went by with nothing happening at all. We were desperate to move. In January, I thought, ‘Someone needs to be working on that house.’ So I came in on my days off and pulled up ivy. It had spread across half the garden and up all the trees and I spent several days just reeling in armfuls of the stuff. So it felt quite fitting this weekend that my last task in the garden was the same as my first.

I will miss this garden. It’s been a place of learning, of wonder, of restoration, of healing, of prayer, of fun, of food (grown and eaten), of company and of solitude. Our new garden will be very different, and no doubt I will tell you all about it in due course. But for now, farewell garden, and I thank you.

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