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A new beginning sparks thoughts of how to improve an already happy existence.

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Gardens and beyond, encompassing all of life’s decisions yet to be made in the coming year require pondering.

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How to get the most out of each and every day bubbles to the fore, a noble goal, for life is entirely too, too short, my mother’s favorite saying.

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The path most worthy, the one chosen for the last several years has been to simplify the requirements.

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Make do with less.

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This is the opposite direction for undertakings during the first part of my life. I was a collector extraordinaire, systematically acquiring, adding to, wanting more, more, more.

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No more. Streamlining is the word in usage today. How will that be accomplished? It has begun by going through cupboards, boxes and cabinets. Tossed or donated, recycled or sold, slowly the accumulations have been lessened. As weather allows, an eye to the garden will see elimination of those plants that struggle or need above and beyond maintenance. It can and will be done. Onward.

The photos:

1. Yucca filamentosa ‘Color Guard’
2. Euphorbia characias ‘Silver Swan’
3. Pinus mugo
4. Dinasaur kale, Brassica oleracea ‘Lancinato’
5. Ornamental kale
6. Fava bean, Vicia faba ‘Aquadulce’
7. Geranium x cantabrigiense ‘Biokovo’


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18 Responses to Simplify

  1. I admire people that can do this. If you saw my home you would probably cringe. I have simplified, for me. I try to grub out things but I find that empty space makes me nervous. ha… This translates into my garden too. I have been able to let go of plants in the garden that take pampering. I no longer fret about plants that I adore and yet they don’t live in my garden. I can now plant more of what likes it here and let the others go. It does feel good. Have a great weekend weeding out “stuff”.

    Hi Lisa, thanks for adding to the conversation here. It is hard, and is ongoing, will never be finished but is worth the effort. It sounds like you have made a good start, not fretting and letting go. You too enjoy your weekend!

  2. Well said. My nearly-nineties in-laws recognize living simply is making their lives easier as they deal with significant memory loss. My own mother, on the other hand, thinks she can pull off hosting holidays, cooking big meals for dozens, and maintain a house AND a vacation home (both brimming with “stuff”). Does a little old lady, that hardly eats, require three refrigerators and two freezers — all full? Not to mention two lawns and gardens! She’s not doing much of it well. Her memory is failing as well (as is her health) — missed appointments, forgotten Christmas gifts, minor car scrapes, etc. She is perpetually frustrated.

    I had this simplification conversation with her this Christmas. Simplification is her answer, she’s just not come to that conclusion on her own. I realize your post isn’t about aging. I’ve met you, and know you, and can testify that you are not aging! But your post does seem apt for what I see family going through.

    Dear Jim, thank you for joining in here with stories of your family. I admire those who can continue to do so much, but feel it necessary to begin making life more simple as I do indeed *age*. It is hard to let go of things that have certain meaning, but is sometimes necessary.

  3. Barbara H. says:

    I so identify with Lisa! In many ways it is easier for me to simplify outside than inside, but perhaps that is because I am still in the creation process for my gardens here at my “new” (over 5 years now!) home. But Frances, you are so accurate about the new goal of streamlining. I think about it more and more and the tide has turned for me, too. Yes, I will follow your lead. Onward!

    Hi Barbara, thanks for telling your story. Streamlining is the goal and I have been at it for going on 13 years now. Moving to a smaller house helped force me to get rid of furniture and household belongings that had been moved around from place to place across the US. I was late in understanding about doing so in the garden, but continue to strive towards simplifying everything. Onward!

  4. Lovely thoughts and true, Frances. I have a ways to go but am down to mostly the things I realy, really love. However, it took a while to focus on your words with that stunning photo of your yucca grabbing all my attention. That could be hanging in a gallery somewhere.

    Hi Georgie, thanks for adding in here with your efforts of streamlining and letting go. That yucca is so photogenic, it is difficult to photos of anything else!

  5. Carol says:

    Every day I try to think of ways to simplify, to leave some baggage behind. It makes it easier the next day, when the load is lighter.

    Hi Carol, thanks for adding in about lightening the load. It is good to know you are on board!

  6. jean says:

    Your pictures are always so lovely and I am new to this blog, but they are like a fresh breath of Spring in this beautiful winter season. So we are moving after 23 years of raising our children and staying in the same home in Ohio to a smaller home in Indiana. So excited to start a new garden, so hard to leave 23 years of periannals behind. Have taken a few special ones and am pleased to get to start all over figuring out how to make a better garden as I have much more sun and not all shade. Will try to grown organic vegetables at least and am weeding through 23 years of “treasures” in the household. Have gotten rid of a lot, more to get rid of but it is “freeing” to get rid of some of the “treasures” I no longer need. Some of the treasures will look good out in the garden, like an old chair I never got refinished but too pretty to let go. Maybe some bird will like to land on it between getting a drink of water from the birdbath and deciding which way to go next. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and pictures. Let’s hope whomever falls in love with the house will love two beds of periannuals and take good care of them as they don’t ask for a lot and are beautiful all summer long.

    Hi Jean, thanks for visiting and welcome! I can very much appreciate your big move, having moved many times. Enjoy your new garden and home and may someone kind buy the old homestead. I love your description of a bird taking advantage of the old chair.

  7. First of all, the photos are stunning! You have really inspired me to look at my plants differently with photography. Second, the concept of simplify has been my motto for my parents for the last year also. My parents (mid 70’s) lost their home a year ago to a fire which caused them to simplify the hard way. The bad thing is they have enough “stuff” in their barns to fill 3 homes. They have 2 huge farms with cattle also. When my mom passed away in October, my dad, sisters and I have been so overwhelmed at the task of taking care of all this “stuff”, it is almost immobilizing. So, I guess what I’m saying is I’m not only going to simplify for me but also my kids.

    Hi Brenda, thank you for sharing. Please accept my condolences on the loss of your mother. Going through the accumulations of our family is one of the things that set me off on the road of steamlining. I don’t want my kids to have to wade through my stuff, either.

  8. entwinedlife says:

    Too much Stuff, whether in the house or in the garden… Things purchased or shared… potential. Too much potential might be overwhelming. Ask what each thing symbolizes, and is it working for you now… do you still LOVE it? If not, take a photo and pass it on… the beauty of digital. Someone will be delighted. I’m bundled up to head to the garden to try my new Olly lense for my smart phone… fits in the pocket.. You can photo inside as well as outside and decide if you love what you see and make changes. Thanks Frances for the inspiration! Happy New Year!

    Hi Entwined, thanks for sharing and do stay warm! I think the question of useful and/or beautiful, as William Morris so wisely said are pertinent still today. Overwhelming is what many, including me when I look inside the garage, feel about getting rid of stuff. It is easier in the garden, since many things will die without the extra care given. Dust to dust… and on that happy note, may 2013 be your best year ever!

  9. Although inspiring and upbeat, there is an impossible to ignore undercurrent of poignancy to this post. I guess because it taps into that something we all know to be true…time passes on, the seasons and conditions of our lives and those we love change.
    Amazing that the yucca can shine so bright in the gray of winter…symbolism there, also!
    Simplifying is also an ongoing mantra for me in the garden…let the survivors thrive and do some of the work for me.

    Ah Michaele, that you for being so insightful. This is a yin and yang sort of post, as that is the way I always feel at this time of year. Saying goodbye to some, saying hello to others. The Yucca ‘Color Guard’ is simply brilliant. I got rid of the Y. ‘Golden Sword’ plants in favor of my Color Guards. They are the best.

  10. Alison says:

    I hope you’re successful in your further streamlining and simplifying this year. One of the smartest things we ever did was our move across the country four years ago, because it precipitated an enormous purge. Plus, of course, it meant I could start my garden all over again, and make a whole new set of mistakes building it. For me, now, one sentence in your post really stands out — “A new beginning sparks thoughts of how to improve an already happy existence.” That is so true for me as well.

    Love the photo of the Yucca filamentosa that opens this post. I have Bright Star which has no filaments, but I’m beginning to think I need some Color Guard as well.

    Hi Alison, thanks for sharing your streamlining experience with us. Moving certainly forces us to reassess our possessions and getting to start over with a new garden is wonderful, wnole new set of mistakes! That’s a good one! Color Guard really brightens any garden space, containers or in the ground. Highly recommended.

  11. Cindy says:

    Simplify is one of my watchwords for 2013, both in and out of the garden. I’m so glad to have you as a companion on the journey!

    Hi Cindy, thanks for joining in the journey of ever simplifying life. It should be fun and I like the company!

  12. Lola says:

    My thoughts also. Simplify & have those that require little help. Your garden is always a beauty that I admire.

    Hi Lola, thanks so much. The last thing we need is needy plants!

  13. Karen of Cabinhouse says:

    Dear Fairegarden Queen,
    Once again, as you so often do,
    You write my thoughts!
    So many of my friends (And Me! )
    Are doing the same! What’s the old saying from our Fathers Generation?
    Keep what you Love…
    Use it up…
    Or do without?
    Wish I knew who originally quoted that!
    Thanks for your eloquence,
    Once again!
    Love, k

    Hi Karen, what a delightful comment, thank you for visiting. Wise words those, words I am inspired by to make a change in my way of living, in the garden and everywhere.

  14. Very wise. I agree with the principle but am not quite ready to put it into practice. I still get overwhelming urges to add particular plants, plus I like to tinker with what I’ve got. But I am going to try to at least remove an old plant for every new one I add.

    Hi Garden IAC, thanks for sharing your feelings here. It is highly doubtful that I will not any new plants to this garden or gardens of the future, but….I will not add any that need extraordinary efforts to keep them alive or well groomed. Repeating with those plants that do best, plus allowing so-called weeds to grow wherever they pop up are a couple of ways to simplify. Inside the home, there are more drastic changes afoot.

  15. Sandy & Richard says:

    Dear Frances, How right you are, as one gets older one realizes the necessity to simplify life, to down size, maybe, a smaller garden…. and less STUFF in the house, to let someone else get pleasure from one of your treasures. Our new garden is 1 1/2 years old….smaller than the last one, already it bursts with colours and textures of plants we could never grow in our last place, and is much easier to look after. As for house stuff 2/3 rds of it is still in boxes in the big shed at the bottom of the garden….you do have to ask yourself….do you really need it? or will I be like a child at Christmas, just dying to open the next box, to ooh and ah at my long missed treasures…..and will I be brave enough to part with them…..oh dear, my weakness shows through.
    I agree your Yucca Filamentosa is utterly beautiful,the whispy curly bits are gorgeous, such divine colours sitting together in perfect harmony, caught by the passion of your keen eye, and ability to see beauty in all plants.
    My plants are feeling very none photogenic today, it’s 39 o C out there, too hot. Warmest wishes….almost too warmest… Sandy.

    Hi Sandy, thanks for the thoughtful comment. Your garden and house sound wonderful and congratulations on making the downsize. There are a few boxes here from the move twelve years ago, holding keepsakes from the kids, that need to be sorted. Maybe this will be the year to do that, finally.

  16. This is an inspirational post, Frances. I seriously need to start getting rid of stuff! Having young adults still at home makes it a little tough, but I must move in the direction of simplifying. Your photos added to the beauty of your words.

    Hi Plant Postings, thanks for dropping by. It is hard to simplify while kids of any age are living with you, but easier because they can go through their own stuff to make those decisions about keep or remove. For us, the kids have taken the things they want already, for their own homes. Bittersweet.

  17. Rose says:

    Definitely a worthy goal, Frances! One of my favorite quotes is Thoreau’s “Simplify, simplify, simplify,” yet I have had trouble following that advice in the past. But I definitely think it’s time to part with some stuff in my house–my daughter has threatened to put me on “Hoarders”:) A striking image of the Yucca!

    Hi Rose, thanks for joining in. It was Thoreau’s word that started me in this quest to make life easier and with less baggage being dragged around, baggage of all types, that is.

  18. Since we moved we have been trying to keep simplified all the time instead of having things piled up gradually over the years. Thought in the garden is to plant so long range management will be easy, simple, not too overwhelming for the aging gardener. 🙂

    Hi Janet, thanks for sharing your wisdom. Moving is a good way to start anew, with those lessons learned along the way being put into action. We may make one or more moves still, and believe me when I say, the new gardens will be simplified!

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