Different realities :)


I had a demanding career, and developed cancer 6 years ago. This cancer is rare enough that it doesn’t have its own name, but does have a daily treatment which must be continued lifelong, and includes mental fogginess, body aches, easy and frequent joint injuries, and fatigue as some of the side effects. I managed to continue working long enough for retirement benefits. In retrospect it would have been smarter to try for disability, but I’m too stubborn and didn’t have the energy to fight the system. Stubbornness was also what sustained me through until I qualified for retirement.

The garden and orchard are what sustain me now. I cant fight deer any more, so this winter I had a contractor build a 35 foot x 40 foot enclosure, where I plan to focus future vegetable and fruit gardening. The trees will be espaliers and mini dwarfs. I have a plan for how to keep genetic dwarf peaches there from getting leaf curl. The espaliers are mostly Redlove varieties, which are not available as mini dwarfs. Also some columnars on Bud-9 to keep them small. I think my black mulberry will remain small enough to be there, and the dwarf thornless blackberry. Our summers are dry. I will have a water tap in the middle, no more hauling hoses all over the place. This winter I gave away 90% of the deck plants, which needed daily watering. I will grow a lot fewer tomatoes and potatoes this year, but more sweet corn and winter squash.

Some garden beds will go back to grass this winter and spring. Some of my original fruit trees are now above deer grazing height but the mamma bear “too tall for deer / short enough for me to manage” just right sweet spot is a very narrow height range. Most likely I’ll keep what I can, but not replace ones that die. It’s just too much to climb ladders for thinning and bird protection, and pruning, and deer fences are complicated or too expensive for a large backyard orchard.

Included in my accessible “design” - in quotes because it’s not really designed - is removal of grass pathways that are too narrow for riding mower, making rounded edges for easier mowing, having more trellises in the relatively small “old guy (me) garden” to fit in climbing beans and cucumbers, better mulches for fruit trees, and more places to sit down. I intend to build two raised beds in the fenced area, most likely cement blocks with paver tops, large enough to sit on so I can sit to weed and groom those.

So that’s my different reality - learning to work with a smaller protected space, less hauling of water hoses, other accessibility features progressively built in so I can continue to garden.


My best to you Bear. I am so sorry for what you are dealing with. I understand how the garden and orchard are healing for you. I feel that every day that I am outside. I am retiring in less than 2 months d/t continued problems after back surgery and I am having to accept that I simply cannot do the things I used to do. I am happy for you that you have this place to go to help heal your spirit and bring you back to nature.


Thank you @rosdonald. Like the topic says, we all have our different realities. Bets wishes for your retirement!

It would have been smarter for me not to try to grow everything I could think of. Still, there’s lot of good stuff in my garden, trees that outgrew the need for much care, nice shrubs and perennials. Once I get past this change to a more accessible infrastructure, that’s it, no more big projects.

Best wishes for your pending retirement. It’s a big change!


Hello folks. The wife and I have been blessed with around an acre in parcels scattered around our little town of 300. In my mind, I see them filled with fruit trees and vegitables, but that is a truely different reality. As for limitations, I would have to say time and climate are the main factors. Retirement in a few months will take care of one. Our western Oklahoma weather is a challenge, but if it was too easy, it would not be worth it. As for my knees and back, at 64 they are old companions. We dont always get along, but they never leave. I appreciate this thread.

It is good to glimps other realities and to know that we all share a love for nature.


Thank you so much! I mentioned in an earlier post that I did a winter check on my bees–two hives–and they did not make it. Also my beloved peaches are coming into bloom. I’m trying to be positive because these were two important things for me as I retire in April. Life throws curve balls at us and we have to be resilient and be willing to change plans. Even though I know that, why does it seem so hard to do?

Despite a change in my health, I keep adding new trees, shopping for seeds, looking at perennials. It is almost like an addiction. I need to look around me and be realistic. I have been planting a steep bank near my home which I now find difficult to manage. My neighbor suggested winter jasmine as a hardy shrub that will continue to grow and cover the area, plus provide color in a time when little else is blooming. Right now they are blooming and bringing me such joy. I finally did one thing right.


Very nice!

The best display of winter jasmine I’ve ever eyeballed was at Walmart in Johnson City, TN around 14 years ago…but it may have played out by now. Not too far from you?


At Walmart. Ironic, right? There used to be a fantastic display of winter jasmine at Virginia Military Institute in the town where I work. It cascaded over the rock walls and heralded the coming of spring. Since then it has been contained and cut back so severely that it lacks its former glory. I think I got my inspiration there, and from my neighbors. These two amazing gardeners who used to maintain gardens in Williamsburg have moved across the street from me in a log cabin. They even commented on the winter jasmine yesterday, and plan to line the other side of the street with the same : ) Nice to have such experts so close by.



(I don’t think Walmart gets the credit…it is or was perhaps planted in a very tall retaining wall at the end of the parking lot…covering the whole cascade. Some landscape architect probably thought…correctly…that it would work in that location.)


I am hoping this will visually show how swampy it is year round. It’s mushy to walk in and foolish to use a lawn mower in. You sink a bit.

That is why iris do well there. But edibles?


Tyhat looks great for Honeyberries, Lonicera, high bush blueberries, bakeapples, (rubus chaememorus), lots of stuff:)


Also, your grass is amazing. No weeds, healthy and full, small blades. Do you do anything in particular to keep such a nice lawn?


I do nothing. we have plenty of rain, and only in summer do the sprinklers in ground pop up at early morning. The apartment landlord hires people to mow and put weed killer and they might put a fertilizer but I have not asked. I just wish they would not mow or use any heavy machines when it is soggy. It is why we have the many deep ridges.


Still, looks really nice compared to my intermittent weeds and dry grass. We have had terrible ridges of the same from an almost full sewer truck, and a truck that brought out some slate for a patio. We are still filling in low spots and sink holes more than a year later.