For me the big compromise of our retirement move was the size of the garden. We really didn’t downsize the house that much, although the configuration was very different and more suited to our new lifestyle. The garden, however, was a different story, downsizing as we did from a quarter of an acre to a small courtyard measuring 11′ x 13′. Although I loved the house I just wasn’t sure if I could cope with such a tiny garden and flatly refused to buy the house if not offered proof that it would at least be a sunny space. My husband who felt he had done quite enough gardening over the years had no such problems and joyfully embraced the tiny plot.
For me it was more complicated. I had always thought of myself as a keen gardener and indeed I love gardens. With hindsight I think this was one way of feeling I was pleasing my mother who sadly died of cancer when I was 32 and never saw her grandson. She really was a passionate gardener and loved to be out in the garden at six in the morning to put in an hour’s solid digging before breakfast. I am not and never have been this sort of gardener. I love the creative part, designing the garden choosing the plants etc but I never really took to the maintenance side of things. Weeding the herbaceous border for the first time in the spring wasn’t too bad, but then the weeds grow back and you have to do it again and again and again – boring! It took me decades to acknowledge that I really just wanted to sit in the garden as I felt that on some level it would be letting down my mum.
Having established the courtyard was sunny I agreed to take the plunge with the proviso that we set aside some of the money from the sale to make our courtyard really special, somewhere we would both want to spend time in. The first year we just stuck in the bench and plant pots from our old garden and replanted the existing raised bed. But we began to make plans.
To be continued