#223 Seeing what comes out of the garden at your new place

My friend Ago got excited.

We were hanging out after work the other day and he started going on and on about how the previous owners of his new house had planted perennial flowers. “They just popped outta the ground,” he said, completely astonished, eyes popping wide like a giant squid. “It was like magic.”

He and his wife Nat gazed upon the earthy brown patch outside their home every day and started enjoying the random mish-mash garden that bloomed straight up out of it. “It was like a free garden,” he said to me, jaw dropped, tongue hanging out like an eager puppy. “No money!”

And he does have a point.

After all, if you’ve ever moved into a new place you know how empty it seems when you get there — old mothballs in the closet, cobwebs where the couch was, rock-hard baking soda in the fridge, that’s all you got.

But someone was there before and it was a home before it was your home. So it’s fun to stop and think: Who used to live here? What did they do? Did they have kids? And hot water problems, too?

Plants and flowers left behind form a loose connection between everyone who ever lives in the same place. They’re little notes scratched between yesterday and tomorrow’s tenants connecting us all through maple trees, sharp shrubs, and whatever comes out of the garden in the spring.

So when you’re moving take your dining room table, take your tube TV, and take your rusty drive. But make sure you leave something good growing in the garden … make sure you leave a little hello and high five.


Photos from: here and here

51 thoughts on “#223 Seeing what comes out of the garden at your new place

  1. We were selling our house during the summer and didn’t know how long it would take, so we planted our usual vegetable garden. Fast forward two months to when we moved in mid-August, leaving tomatoes, peppers and carrots behind. I’ve always wondered if the new owners liked the little backyard bounty we left for them.

    1. Ah, I would have loved that! What an awesome surprise. Too bad my new apartment’s gravel makes that unlikely for me=(

      1. I moved into a house that had a garden planted. We moved in just before harvest time and I tell you what, WE enjoyed our bounty. We had strawberries, peppers, squash, tomatoes, green beans, etc. It was awesome. A total bonus. I am sure your people enjoyed theirs as well.

  2. When I was a child, my family moved house every year. Literally, moving house was an annual thing, and being a child, I figured it was normal.

    Imagine my surprise when a friend informed me she was still living in the house she was born in!

    But for me, moving house so often was an adventure; it was always so great to find something that had been left behind!

    (P.S. The shortest amount of time I ever spent in a house was less than three months. Who can top that?)

    1. I moved a lot too growing up but not every year! And living somewhere less than three months? Wow. When I was a kid my family moved to Florida for about four months and I had started school and everything but we were at my aunt’s house waiting to find our own home so I guess that doesn’t count…so yeah, you win! Not that it was a competition or anything… =p

      1. Well, did you ever count? this move, May last year, I did.
        I’m so not competetive, but since you asked, game on…I’ve moved 65 times and am presently preparing to move again this fall!
        I can relate; learned very early to appreciate wild flowers, forests, mountains, nature walks, parks and beauty of others gardens. Sunday, on a walk with my 27+10 and a half month old daughter, we were reminisciing about the days when she and a friend made bouquets from neighboring flower gardens and sold them door-to-door. Classic #944.

        1. She tunes in here too, so I best be sure it is written, very honest young lady she is; they actually knocked on the doors and told the owners they were making money and so had permission to pick the flowers to make the bouquets thay sold to people mainly living in appartments with none…not recently, but when they were 5-6 years old=)

          1. That’s good that she had permission. I used to pick flowers out of people’s gardens on my walk to school in the morning to give to my teacher. I didn’t realize it was wrong until the horrified look on her face when I told her where the flowers came from! In my defence I was only in Gr. 1, but I guess I aught to have known better.

            1. My favourite summer was spent almost entirely in a beautiful wild patch full of vibrant blooms and near the lake. I found it 4 or 5 years ago. At the time there were no fences. I used to visit every day and it became my favourite “thinking spot.” After the owner build a fence I couldn’t visit for a few years and that was a really sad time. Then one spring, flowers and bulbs started to appear on my doorstep and that’s when I knew it would be okay. I’m happy to see the gate open again these days.

        2. I’ve moved a total of 16 times in my life and am hoping to move at least one more time. When I was eight I lived with my Dad for 2 months and one place I lived with just me and my daughter for almost 2 months. As a teenager I moved in with my grandma twice and the first time it was only for a couple months.

        3. Sixty-five!! Game on, indeed!

          I don’t know whether to pity you or envy you… I think envy. It’s rather fun to pack up your things and reorganise them in a new way. Heck, sometimes I do that without even moving house. I just move things for the sake of moving things.

          So… Yeah. I think you win! ;)

    2. I lived in my last apartment for two months, but to be fair I lived in a different apartment in the same building for 3 years. BUT when we first moved to NJ when I was little, our house wasn’t finished being built yet so we lived in a model home for two weeks. There was a huge pile in the front room of all our furniture and other stuff, and my four-year-old self thought that was the coolest thing. :)

    3. I moved a lot too, and figured it was pretty normal. I agree, it was really exciting! I still love packing away all my things and moving on – clearing out the stuff you don’t need and rediscovering things you didn’t realise you had. I love it.

      This year, lots of flowers started popping up in the garden! One year a miniature snap-dragon-flower popped up which to this day I haven’t seen again (it was about one fifth the size of a normal one). We had a celebrity garden for a while! Multi-headed daisies flowered there too. . it was a pretty strange place!

        1. Hey, I had some double headed daisies! I think that “Someone” is living at one of my old houses!

          btw those of you who still like moving things, our friends have all disappeared and we could sure use a hand moving again this winter;)

  3. We moved into our house 5 or 6 years ago. This year for the first time, we found a rather nondescript but pretty bush was actually a feijoa tree- we feasted on feijoas from the backyward! Awesome

  4. I was adding some perrennials to my garden a couple weeks ago and was thinking how the next people who live here will be so surprised in the spring. Awesome!!

  5. Loved this post!
    I was absolutely gutted when we moved from our old house, due to a multitude of reasons, naturally, yet most of all because every August we got a masses of delicious apples from the trees in our back garden.
    I was only about tennish when we moved so most trees looked kind of the same, so it was truly AWESOME when I realised the summer afterwards that despite its tininess we had an apple tree in the garden at our new house too :D
    Shall definitely be leaving a bounty when I move houses next time!

  6. Our landscape is mainly Alpine wild. Lovely to see arrive every year from before the snow is gone until it falls again. So bold and brave and strong! My favorite; the first and last always the daisy which can grow anywhere, yet are so delicate. Lady slippers, tiger lily’s, asters, forget-me-nots, Soloman’s slipper, Paint brush, firns uncurling; so much varitey and many colours! Some have only 1 week lives, so you really need to be attentive.
    Congratulations on your friends new home. I was reading early material; saw Ago’s name and delightful comments often.
    My girls had a poster with children in a meadow of wild flowers, which read~ “Only in a world of love can we unfold and bloom.”
    Looks like “Love is in the air and everywhere you look around.” :)
    Thanks for sharing the beautiful story.

  7. The one house that we were trying to get had a beautiful flower garden and my favorite trees…but that house is sold now. I’m hoping that the house we do end up buying has a flower garden already.
    I don’t think I’ve lived anywhere that has already had a flower garden planted.. ok, well, since I’ve been old enough to pay attention. I’ve lived in apartments that are an entire flight of stairs up, a trailer during the winter and I never really paid attention as a kid.

    1. A few days ago, this new tree/flower/plant thing came out of nowhere at my apartment. Now, hubby’s been there for about 10 years and I’ve been there for around 5 and neither one of us have ever seen it. Its a Yucca flower. The bottom of it has always been there, but it just sorta sprouted a few days ago and bloomed. Its pretty, but I have no idea where it came from. The landlord didn’t plant it and neither did we. Its a mystery plant.

  8. I left a perennial garden in the front yard of a house once, and the new owners covered it with sod. That was sad until next spring when I went by and saw that all my tulips had come up right through the sod! Go bulbs!

      1. I love it!! He’s SOO happy! And who can blame him..

        I mean, that’s not just the unrestrained joy of a child.. absolutely ANYONE would have that look on their face if they had their entire hand shoved deep into a jar of Nutella!

        Thanks, Bekah!

  9. SO AWESOME! My friend Amanda bought a house a year and a half ago and last spring she texted me a couple pictures of her free garden with a message that said, “LOOK AT THIS! I didn’t plant, water, or care for these! How awesome is that??”

    I moved to where I live now last July … delighted to find that the previous owners left me a garden full of mulch and cigarette butts. That’s ok … whenever I move, the people after me will have an awesome garden full of geraniums, zinnias, marigolds, salvia, and … a few other things that I forgot.

    1. Does the saliva help the geraniums grow better? Is this some sort of gardening tip I don’t know about??

      And trust me, I need it.. the wife and I have always lived in apartments or condos, so we’ve never had a garden of our own.. but we have whatever the opposite of a “green thumb” is.. a “brown toe” maybe?

      We’ve tried several times to keep a potted basil plant a live.. but within 2 days it’s always a pot of dead brown twigs.. It’s pretty pathetic..

      1. I’m not sure what kind of container you use to try and grow the basil, but if it is clay, you need to be sure to water it pretty much every day. Clay pots soak up the moisture out of the dirt. I tend to kill things in clay pots because I don’t water them enough. You might have better luck with plastic pots. That definitely helped turn my “brown toe” around.

        1. Thanks, Bucky! We’ll give it a try next time we get up the nerve to buy a basil plant.. Our pots were definitely clay, and we’d forget to water them for, well.. uhh… you mean plants need water??

          Currently, we’re still both pretty traumatized by our constantly killing a living thing so quickly. We’re ready to “start a family” in the next few years, but we’re a little nervous based on our track record with plants.

          Do babies need more or less attention than basil plants?

          1. I’d definitely say that babies require LESS attention than a basil plant … ;) or maybe it’s more … I dunno. I do know that, unlike a basil plant, a baby will certainly let you know it has needs. Maybe plants need to figure out how to ask for water.

            As for my garden, it’s salvia … not saliva ;) … but don’t feel bad, I made that mistake at first too. My aunt and uncle own a greenhouse and when I told them I was looking to start a garden, they hooked me up with 1) plants that have similar sun and water needs … like, mine receive sun almost all day and they all need a fair amount of water. Some plants like shade or part sun, or don’t need much water, etc., so they wouldn’t work well in certain areas or in combination with other plants. 2) plants that look good together … mine are red and yellow and grow to be certain heights. So pretty.

            No matter your status as a gardener, I have very high confidence that you will be amazing parents. I mean, you’re super-awesome, and though I only know OF your wife, she sounds pretty awesome, too. AND she’s a pediatrician (right?), so surely she’s got the know-how to keep a baby alive ;) … if nothing else, she can swaddle it in a Snuggie, feed it Nutella, and read it Twilight to get it to fall asleep!

            1. Your garden sounds awesome! We need a pic! :)

              Thanks for the optimism. I’m sure I’ll check back in here when we finally have kids and they’re crying constantly and I need another pep-talk about how we’re going to make good parents.

              You are right though – the wife is a pediatrician, so hopefully that helps some.. the alternative is she gets so inured to children being in really terrible spots, that anything barring our kid missing limbs or having six marbles shoved up their nose doesn’t warrant notice.

              Currently, 100% of my confidence in how we’ll get through the first few months of parenting comes from the fact that my wife claims that she is a pro at making “baby burritos”. From what I understand, this means she’s an expert at swaddling, and not anything gross. So, snuggie swaddling it is! :)

          2. I find babies much easier to raise than plants, basil or otherwise. Babies tend to get quite loud when they need something, while plants just sit there far too quietly. I know my track record with babies is much more positive than my one with plants, so you, too, should be fine when the time comes.

            1. Glad to hear you’ve found parenting easier than plants… At least in terms of keeping each respective option alive.

              Not sure the same thing is going to be true when its time for the kids to go to college. Because I’ll tell you – no matter how many basil plants we buy and kill, they will always be cheaper than sending one of our future rugrats to college! :)

              1. I can’t keep plants alive. I don’t know what it is, but I just can’t. I try my best to take care of them and yes I admit, I do forget about them sometimes, but not enough for them to always die off and never grow back. My daughter gave me a potted Marigold for Mother’s Day and its taking everything I have to keep that thing alive. Of course if I could take it out of the pot, the survival rate might go up…. but where I am now, I cannot plant it in the ground. Babies/kids might require a bit more of my attention, but they are easier, at least to me they are.

  10. My parents bought our house in the middle of winter not long after they first moved to Canada so they couldn’t see much of what was outside. When all the snow finally started to go away they began to discover all manner of things in the yard, including a great big concrete flowerpot. Each day a little bit more of it would be visible and they’d be trying to figure out what it was. It didn’t have anything growing in it, but it was still a nice garden surprise.

  11. YES!!!! As a new homeowner of a home with a garden that looked like it had been neglected for way too long, my husband and I were used to the annual emerging of our lovely dandelions and clovers! But now that we started plucking those out and planted a flower garden, we actually have flowers that come up! Gotta love tulips and perennial plants!…. :-D

  12. I’m getting the keys for my new house today =yippee! I have no idea about the gardens but am excited to discover and add to them. The house I sold was purchased by the buyers way back in February, so I hope they are currently delighted with the hundreds of bulbs and various perennials I have put in over the past 8 years. The spring iris show on my side garden was a neighbourhood conversation piece.

    I can’t bear it yet though, to do a drive-by to see if they’ve paved over it or are leaving it for their own summer of discovery….

  13. I bought a new construction home in Houston. Being lazy, clueless and afraid of dying due to that uniquely Houston mixture of heat and humidity – I hired a company to take care of the landscaping. One day I noticed that they never cut the grass in a far corner of the yard, behind the power box. I asked them to do it next time.

    The landscaping crew didn’t speak English very well, and we both used that American-translation standard: pantomiming and odd gesturing. After a few unfruitful minutes, one gardener took my hand and lead me to the corner.

    There, hidden behind the power box, were the biggest, healthiest tomato plants I’ve ever seen. We split up the harvest. The tomatoes were unblemished (awesome), gigantic (awesome), and sooo tasty (awesome).

    I guess someone must have eaten lunch outside during construction and a seed landed in my yard. I’m a terrible gardener and would have surely killed the plants had I tried to take care of them.

    Miracle Tomato Birth: AWESOME

  14. I have been living in a semidetached house – which we share with my grandma – with a garden for all my life (equals 17yrs by now). We grow strawberries, 3 kind of apples, blue berries, gooseberries, (red/black/white) currants, (sweet/sour) cherries, blackberries, plums (normal ones / mirabelles) & (white/red) raspberries plus vegetables (we used to have a pear tree as well but we cut it down when I started bicycling around them – & through my mother’s flower beds) & I still spend hours nibbling.
    Next year I’m going to move out & it feels strange thinking that this is my last summer in this garden.

  15. I can’t wait for this one. My partner and I are hoping to buy a house sometime in the next year, and while I’m extremely excited to plant our own garden, it will be excited to see what is already present.

  16. Indeed! Some years ago we moved from an industrialized city to a village in the forest. We used to buy plants and flowers from gardening shops to put it in our square meter backyard. Not anymore since the garden in our new place grows all by itsself. I never understood why the people who lived here did sell their house :) Awesome!

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