A Fallow Garden

“A fallow garden still has promise. An abandoned garden makes us wistful for the days when it was full of life and color and strength like the gardener who once tended it. My Uncle used to have a beautiful garden full of bees and singing birds. When he became too ill to work it his neighbor took over. Even though it shrank in scale it was comforting to see it. This year it was abandoned altogether and I could sense the earth, the bees and birds mourning for my Uncle.”

—Mary Rutherford – 2015


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  • Reply
    Susanna Holstein
    January 24, 2021 at 5:06 pm

    This post vividly recalls to me the garden at an abandoned house down at the end of our holler. The first time I saw it was midsummer, I think. The road was a lonely place; all the houses along Bucket Run, as it was called, were abandoned. I had walked down our little run, through the woods about a half mile to reach Bucket Run and I was the only human in at least several miles. It was quiet on Bucket Run, just the busy hum of bees in the wildflowers, and birds in the trees. The garden was surrounded by a decrepit fence, and growing all around the fence were raspberries, asparagus, purple bee balm, red clmbing roses and orange daylilies. There were apple trees near the house and a tumbling down grapevine over the back porch. Everywhere were flowering bushes, iris that had finished blooming, and daisies. It was a place of vibrant growth and life, though no one had actually gardened there in years.

  • Reply
    January 23, 2021 at 11:12 am

    Gardening is a part of our lives. Most of us anyway. We love to put out our garden. The freshness of every thing.

  • Reply
    Wanda Devers
    January 23, 2021 at 10:32 am

    We are at that age in life where we have lost most of our elders–a sad time for sure. Some of my mother’s flowers still grow around her former home and I have some transplanted here. They are always a comfort to me. She had an enormous aloe vera plant that was her pride & joy. She wanted me to take it & I have managed to keep it alive for almost 10 yrs. Amazingly it has grown even bigger & I know she would be proud of me. I think the secret is the East window it is in.

  • Reply
    Sherry Case
    January 23, 2021 at 10:24 am

    This makes my heart very sad. I know we humans tend to personify animals, however what if they too mourn the loss of a place where they once fed and rejoiced in that bounty of beauty?

  • Reply
    January 23, 2021 at 10:12 am

    It seems anymore that most areas make me wonder about their history, and gardens have a way of unfolding history that might have gone unnoticed. The love and patience gardens require give an opportunity to find its hidden treasures. Many years I enjoyed a garden in my back yard, and shared the joys of abundance and the concern over a tomato blight with my neighbor, Joe. Each year my garden would uncover a bit of its history. Joe’s garden always looked greener and better than mine, but that was okay. We shared from our bounty!
    I knew my subdivision had once been a part of the old Carr farm in the 1800s. It was excellent soil, and I often wondered if that was from grazing cattle or centuries of leaves from the forest. I was not surprised when my uncle tilled and came in with some good sized metal rusted markers with pointed ends buried deep in the soil. I knew they were property makers from long ago, but was surprised Unk did not know what they were. As years went on I uncovered many marbles no doubt left by some young boys who once lived here. Once I retrieved a little toy elephant. I kept wishing for an arrowhead, but no such luck. I found a little hard ball that was puzzling. My garden has shrunk, and my dear neighbor’s garden now lays fallow. Bad health has finally stopped Joe from his favorite pastime. Joe is still living there for now, but that beautiful garden has now become a memory.

  • Reply
    January 23, 2021 at 9:13 am

    I’m sure it was hard for the old man to give up gardening and even harder to watch someone else take his place and not be able to get out there and help.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    January 23, 2021 at 9:01 am

    When a field lies fallow because of catastrophe to the tender, that is sad. It is a before-our-eyes illustration of change and passing. For us introspective folks, it makes us think of after we are gone and what will become of anything we have done. Without brooding on it, that is worthwhile thinking. My Dad would say, “I’m a short time here and a long time gone.”

    But fallow, or letting the land rest, is also the opposite; a planned and managed part of an agricultural.system; a giving back rather than a constant taking. Of course few, if any, Appalachian folks had enough good farmland to let any lie fallow. And the tendency often is to not do it even if one can. But not giving back means living on borrowed time.

    There is a lot of meaning in considering “fallow”.

  • Reply
    Catherine J. Spence
    January 23, 2021 at 8:15 am

    The first time we went back to my grandma’s house after she died and I saw the corner of the yard where her garden always was, I cried. That spot looked so empty and forlorn.

  • Reply
    January 23, 2021 at 8:10 am

    My father in law passed seven years ago. He worked a 1-2 acre garden for the 40 years I was able to enjoy being with him. Even before retiring, he along with my mother in law would work in their garden as soon as they came home from work and then they would work to preserve what they had grown. After retiring, it became a passion for him to work in his garden 6 days a week. Now it has grown up with pine and sweet gum trees. I believe those two trees could sprout in an asphalt parking lot if left alone for a short period of time.

  • Reply
    Margie Goldstein
    January 23, 2021 at 7:52 am

    That was a beautiful sentiment and I enjoyed it very much. I think as we grow older, our thoughts shift from the daily grind of raising a family and all our energies spent there to when the nest empties, the pace slows, and we have lots more time to think about what we see and have experienced. The luxury of extra time ( and age reflection) enables us to find time to ponder and write about these things that make the sum of who we are. And Am I the only one who has become more close to where it is I was before I was here AGAIN as I think of the impossible being possible the older I get? Life does seem to be a circular excursion.

  • Reply
    January 23, 2021 at 7:28 am

    That is the unfortunate truth of how life works. Hopefully someone else will be able to bring that plot back to life as it is just sitting in wait. The story makes me feel the same as with my fathers garden as he just passed two years ago and no one has planted in his old plot that brought us much abundance over the 40 years that we (he) lived at that property.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    January 23, 2021 at 6:45 am

    Beautiful Remembrance! A fallow garden always seems sad to me.

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