Fat Girl Wearing Thin

Life beyond the loss.

   Apr 23

Under the Garden

Good Monday, everyone.  Hope your weekend was a nice one.  Mine was spent working in the yard.  The idea is to get most of it into maintenance-mode so that I won’t be out there post-surgery, watching an army of weeds plan their hostile takeover of my few perennials.

Readers often ask about my yard.  In fact, it’s one of the questions I get most.  With summer right around the corner I thought I’d take you on a little tour and hopefully answer some questions along the way.   


When we first moved into our house the backyard was completely overgrown.  The property extended beyond the dried up creek bed but it was completely hidden by giant bushes.  Here’s a snapshot taken from the deck right after we acquired the keys to the house.  It had a wild kind of charm to it, but getting to the shed (yes, there is a shed behind them there bushes) was kind of like trekking your way through the Amazon. 




A ton of hard work, a bulldozer, several loads of dirt and many years later, this is what the backyard looks like today:


You can’t see from this angle but the creek started flowing with water again about two years after we moved in.  It hasn’t been dry since. We don’t have massive amounts of property – our house sits on just a bit more than two-thirds of an acre. You’ve heard the old saying, ‘one man’s trash is another man’s treasure?’   Well, we don’t like that saying very much around here.  Our former owner used to bury his trash in the backyard.   OH! the things we’ve uncovered:


Broken wine bottles.

Part of a tombstone.



An old, rusty coffeepot.

Christmas lights.


Door knobs.

Hinges and coils. 

….oh, I could go on – believe me.  But you get the point.  When we look out over our backyard now, the first thing we say is, ‘We’re so very lucky.’ But the second thing we say is, ‘Do you remember what a nightmare that was?!’

Of course we don’t regret the work we’ve put into our yard for a single second.  But we do have second thoughts whenever we want to tackle any project that involves digging.  And in case you’re wondering – no, we’ve never found a bag of gold or a coffee can stuffed with cash.  Just license plates.  And broken coffee mugs.  And a winter scarf.  Oh, yeah; I was going to get off that topic.  Sorry. 

Our yard will always be a work in progress, for as long as we decide to live here.  Maintaining it truly is a labor of love.  But as you already know, hard work with any task always pays off.  The obstacles you encountered along the way make the finished product that much more satisfying, the frustration a bit less important. 

Have you ever started a major project only to uncover some major roadblocks? 

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  1. Sharon says:

    This is beautiful and after all the hard work, what a sense of satisfaction you must receive when you sit and gaze at it all. Our yard story has somewhat of an opposite effect. The widow who owned our house before us had built the home with her husband in 1940. They were very wealthy (unlike us!!) and always had the yard professionally landscaped each year. We didn’t realize that, nor did we realize how difficult it would be (both labor wise and monetarily) to even remotely keep it looking like they did. We’ve simplified, but persevered and it is beautiful. There’s also that real sense of accomplishment to look out over the yard and know we did it ourselves and weren’t enjoying the handiwork of someone else that we’d paid through our noses to enjoy!! I’d love to SEE your backyard someday! I can just see us sitting in those chairs back near the shed chatting like we’d known each other all our lives.

  2. I hate working in the yard!

  3. HAHAHAHA…I just had to laugh at Karen’s comment first, because I hate working in the yard too, but man do I love your yard!! I want it! :-)

    We have 0.1 acre…teeny tiny, but it’s manageable and even though there are houses on all sides, and behind us, we’ve got lots of mature trees (except that we lost one in the hurricane last year) for privacy.

    Finally, I have to say that your whole post seems to be a metaphor for maintaining our bodies…”a work in progress” and “a labor of love” and “obstacles.”

  4. Roxie says:

    I have yard envy! Oh my goodness – the beauty.

  5. Hanlie says:

    You have a fairytale garden! Yard work has never appealed to me, so I can only dream of having something like that. Great job!

  6. teresa says:

    I would buy a house just for that yard! Not sure I’d have had your vision or the guts to tackle it. It’s magical. Pure beauty.
    I do hope to create in my own yard when we move. A smaller, manageable yard. I want to make pathways… maybe mosaic.. or stepping stones… lots of fun, pretty areas. And a veggie garden for sure.

  7. I can’t even imagine what it would be like finding all of that. You have a beautiful backyard!

  8. I’d love to comment but I have to go to bed after coming down with a severe case of yard envy. It’s absolutely beautiful, Ellen, and obviously a labor of love.

  9. Oh my goodness – this is beautiful! I have no fundamental urge to garden (or really, to do anything related to cleaning, gardening, homes, etc), but I love being in a well-manicured yard and I adore being by water. So beautiful – thank you for sharing! I’d love to see it in person!

  10. Cindy says:

    I agree with Teresa: I’d buy a house just for that yard! Wow! It is absolutely lovely. My favorite part is the creek. There is a creek in the wooded area beyond my back property line, but it is a marshy mess that is prone to flooding. Nothing like yours. (Only the mosquitoes and the deer love it.)
    The consistent roadblock to all of my major projects? Me and my procrastinating ways.

  11. Tom Nowicki says:

    Dibs on the tombstone and Christmas lights!

  12. Wow, Ellen. I never knew your backyard was a park! Gorgeous!

    I guess someone with metal detector would have some fun in your yard, huh? :)

  13. Jill says:

    I hate to make my life always about weight loss- but the major project I undertook WAS weight loss. The road block I found? Myself! Thanks to the blogging world and especially you Ellen- I have been challenged to think about things differently. It is not just about weight loss. It goes so much deeper than that. I have been gently nudged to look deeper and figure things out. I have been nudged to work on loving myself and accepting myself. I have been nudged to work on forgiveness. These have been my road blocks to successful weight loss and maintenance. I really mean this when I say how vital you have been to helping me through these roadblocks!! xoxoxoxoxo
    P.S Your yard is beautiful and I am jealous!!! :)

  14. Goodnuff says:

    Beautiful! I’m like most, not too interested in what it takes to maintain that but would enjoy having it. No wonder you’re concerned with the maintenance of it after surgery.
    Truly beautiful!

  15. vickie says:

    loved the pics!

  16. Jan says:

    Your backyard is GORGEOUS! You can definitely tell that love went in to making that masterpiece. I love it!

  17. didi says:

    What a fairy tale yard you have! It really is something, all the work and time you and your husband must have put into it over the years. Ellen, you are a yard-artist and that is something to be proud of.
    I bet it was all that magic and garden artistry that filled the dry creek bed up again.
    Who buries trash in their own back yard these days? Yipes.

  18. Tim says:

    Your garden is gorgeous!!! I have a tiny garden and a tiny house. In fact everything in England is squished!

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