One warm day earlier in the fall, walking home from an appointment, I decided to take a shortcut up a hill between two mansions from the turn of the last century, now used by multiple little businesses (massage therapist, consultants, etc.) In what must have been a garden between the buildings was a path up the hill to a level spot now paved and used for parking. Punctuating the fawn-colored carpet of fallen leaves was Hedera helix trying to take over the world and scattered pools of lavender colchicum. The ivy was undoubtedly bird planted but who planted the colchicum and when? Was I walking through someone's past piece of Eden? A few weeks later, the blooms had disappeared for the year. For this brief moment, I felt the tug of kinship with a long gone gardener, communicating from a time long past. What, if anything, will remain of our gardens when we depart? Gardens most often don't outlive their gardeners but will there be some remnant left for future generations? When I moved to this garden, a couple of really old trees and drifts of snowdrops were gifts of some former gardener along with lots of cochilcum then blooming in the lawn.
What have we received; what will we leave?
When I lie where shades of darkness
Shall no more assail mine eyes,
Nor the rain make lamentation
When the wind sighs;
How will fare the world whose wonder
Was the very proof of me?
Memory fades, must the remembered
Oh, when this my dust surrenders
Hand, foot, lip, to dust again,
May these loved and loving faces
Please other men!
May the rusting harvest hedgerow
Still the Traveler's joy entwine,
And as happy children gather
Posies once mine.
Look thy last on all things lovely
Every hour. Let no night
Seal thy sense in deathly slumber
Till to delight
Thou hath paid thy utmost blessing:
Since that all things thou wouldst praise
Beauty took from those who loved them
In other days.
- Walter de la Mare