Thank You

Photo by Gayla Trail  All Rights Reserved

Sakura’s White Bleeding Heart in the street garden

I wanted to write and thank you all for your very kind words and wishes about yesterday’s post. I’ve been overwhelmed. Thank you.

I have to admit I have felt a little bit of embarrassed by what I wrote. On the one hand it reads so dramatic, but then when I ask myself if it is true the answer is yes. I believe they call that passion although some would call it melodrama. One commenter was right in saying that this is coming at a bad time and maybe I would not have been so crushed at another time. This is true. I am going through something difficult. It had been a particularly bad week and as I wrote elsewhere it was just the cherry on top of a big plate of shit cake. But I should also add that my words were less tempered than previous posts about this issue because in the past I have waited until a lot of time had passed before writing. The last time I wrote something heartfelt about this was a month after the incident had occurred. It took me 30 days to get to the point where I could look at the garden or even begin to think about caring for it again. So despite recent badness I know it still would have flattened me. I’d been holding my breath waiting for the next big incident to occur. There had been a series of smaller incidents over the last month but I could roll with them. However, this was just the final straw after countless larger acts of vandalism built up over the years, much of which had come from the landlord himself. Sometimes it even came from my so-called neighbours living in the same building (this is a small building too). Years back we made a garden in the space by our building’s door but gave up after that space was repeatedly flattened until nothing was left. But not to be deterred I tried and tried again. We even put in a brick path for people to walk on but they still insisted on crunching through the garden. I once watched in slow motion as a former tenant’s visitors stood in and walked all over flowers I had JUST planted. I was still crouched there planting! That kind of disregard is staggering.

Experiences and how we respond to them always happen within a very personal context so in my case this last act of extreme disregard followed on the heels of years of similar incidents. And most especially followed on the heels of last year’s Operation Garden Terrorism 2007 wherein a week didn’t go by when some act of vandalism was discovered. On the morning of this last incident I stood looking at the garden feeling very content with how lush and full the garden had grown. It was the first day I didn’t stand looking at the garden thinking, “I REALLY hope some drunk dude doesn’t fall into the iris bed this year.” And, “Wow the globe thistle is finally getting its chance to come back. Let’s hope no one gets the idea to destroy it, AGAIN.” It was the first time in a while that I didn’t worry. So of course that was the day this next batch of destruction occurred.

The garden is still there. It’s a decent-sized space filled up with plants. Someone would have to really plow through it to kill everything off. So while there are huge gaping holes, there is still a garden. And I suppose there is some hope for me yet in that I am already contemplating getting another rugosa rose to fill up one of the holes. Because while people have tried, the current rugosa rose is the one plant nobody can really mess with. It’s just too big and thorny. I have always chosen strong, resilient, and drought tolerant plants for that space but I am slowly moving closer to filling the entire thing up with thorny, imposing plants. No more delicate blooms or perennials that die back during the winter leaving them in a vulnerable position until they grow back to full size. No, the beauty of the rugosa rose is that once it gets to a certain size it stays big indefinitely. So maybe that will be my new strategy, one in a long line of shifts I have made over the years in an attempt to roll with the punches. Because when it comes down to it I can’t let it go. Not yet anyways.

I recently bought the new book, “What It Is” by Lynda Barry. I think she is an incredible writer and artist and I am loving this new book so much because it’s not only a beautiful work of art filled with very astute observations and personal stories but it is also a guide to writing and story telling that anyone can follow. She believes we all can and should be writing and drawing for the love and creative expression of it, just like I believe everyone can grow a garden. There are a number of personal stories in the book that I really relate to and one is about fairy tales and myths and how often in those stories the dead kingdom represents when people have turned to stone inside. I’m not sure if it’s meant to represent a loss of hope or a disconnection from oneself although I’m guessing either or both could work. I have been reading and rereading the following passage over and over again recently because it encapsulates exactly how I feel about dealing with difficulty and what I said yesterday about feeling everything no matter what.

Page 54 reads:

“In a myth or a fairytale, one doesn’t restore the kingdom by passivity, nor can it be done by logic or thought. So how can it be done? Monsters and dangerous tasks seem to be part of it. Courage and terror and failure or what seems like failure, and then hopelessness and the approach of death convincingly. The happy ending is hardly important, though we may be glad it is there. The real joy is knowing that if you felt the trouble in the story, your kingdom isn’t dead.”

Time to get back to restoring the kingdom. Thanks again to all of you.

Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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21 thoughts on “Thank You

  1. … and she rises again with grace, class, vision and determination.

    Thank you, Gayla. We can draw lots of analogies to the bigger “garden of life” from your true and wise words. This is a post I’m going to re-read quite a few times.

  2. It’s a quest! You have a quest.
    Also, I’d been trying to make up my mind whether or not to get Lynda Barry’s new book and, thanks to your comments, I’m gonna take the plunge!

  3. so much for theme gardening – it´s the “leave me the f*** alone”-garden…


  4. WONDERFUL … so glad that your fighting spirit is still intact, even if you are at the moment battle weary. This post is inspirational, and not just because of the gardening.

    Those rugosa roses, they take some beating too … and they are very beautiful (and varied). I will always associate them with your story

    All best wishes

  5. I am with you on the rose’s. I have two very big shrub rose bushs in chilly minnesota. They attack from about a foot away! yet are beautiful in their own thorny way. Maybe put some nice shade loving hostas underneath!
    Hang in there!

  6. I am so glad you are in brighter spirits!

    The book sounds really inspirational. The quote alone makes me want to go out and check the book out – well after my exams.

    As for walking over plants, I can relate. A certain mailman sometimes likes to take a shortcut and walk all over the flowers. It drives my mom bonkers.

  7. Ah, I don’t think you’re melodramatic. Passion is a good word rather. I know it’s hard, but I absolutely admire how you always dust yourself off and go again whenever that garden gets ruined. It is inspirational.

    I’ve heard about that book, and I keep saying “I’ll check that out”. I think I might get on that now.

  8. Giant cow parsnip! that’ll burn the effers that stomp in your greenery, and its impossible to kill. giant cow parsnip with THORNS, even better! there’s got to be a nasty human eating plant out there somewhere….

  9. Gayla, I’m so sorry. But also, thank you for posting this. I’ve had a hard day, and the passage from the book really hit home and helped me.

    At least know this…you help others. While some people aren’t aware enough to understand and enjoy the garden that you love and work hard on, many others do. The woman who told you who had been mucking about in your garden last year, the people that have given plants to you, it’s easy for me to believe that your garden helps teach children about plants, even if they don’t know they’re learning when they walk by.

    Your forums here help, your blog helps, your pictures help. You’re part of my life through this blog, even though we will never meet. When I’m hurting, you’re website is here. When I come here, I know that you’re out there planting seeds and caring for plants, even through the bad times.

    You and your gardens are beautiful, and appreciated. Even if sometimes you can’t feel it, know that you are.

  10. Thank you so much for sharing. I am encouraged by your determination to create beauty. You are not alone! I’m sure for all the absurd people out there trying to ‘trample your treasure’ there are many, many more who quietly appreciate and delight in your work:) Stay strong!

  11. Gayla, you are an inspiration to so many people in the most positive way possible, the way of creating and nurturing. How many of us can actually say that? You GO girl!!!

  12. Seabuckthorn berries… Just saying! Those things scare the crap out of me! Also, I love how you’ve connected writing,drawing, and gardening… As someone who seems to be feeling more and more disconnected from my formerly artsy self, my tiny starter garden has been a life saver. It’s like the best kind of art in that it’s a collaboration between yourself and your own efforts, the whims of mother nature, and the truly livings things who help bring to life. Imagine a painting that selected the palette for you! Amazing! Keep growin’ girl!

  13. Yes to roses.

    It’s not nastiness that I love thorny things, it’s just that, yes, they are the only things left that will survive, might as well pick something beautiful as well as thorny, and the rose is a glorious metaphor and being. You can make rose water, and eat the rosebuds too.

    Another thing is, roses are more recognizable as ornamental flowers, so people will be more resistant to wrecking them.

  14. Gayla,
    Thanks for the insipration. Keep tilting at the windwills. We will beat the unbeatable foe, whether it be Japanese Beetles or drunks on the street. I love your spirit!


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