Our almost postage size Seattle garden is a special and personal place for me because it tells a story. Our story.
It all began in May of 2002 with the planting a cherry tree in honor of my late nephew, Zhubin, who left us much too soon. A very special person, Jarrett, who also is no longer with us in this world, planted the tree. Since then, our small garden has become a place of remembering and reconnecting in a spiritual way for my family.
In August 2000, I moved with my family from England and I wanted to bring part of England with me. It was a difficult move for me and the idea of being away from my family, friends and the UK, was heart wrenching for me. But I made the decision early on that I was going to make the most of my new situation and create a cozy home for all of us in our new city – Seattle. Once I made that decision, I didn’t look back.
In 2001, we bought a Craftsman style house in a triangle. One side of the triangle is in the Wallingford neighborhood, while the other two sides are in Green Lake and Fremont. It took about 10 months to renovate the home. From the start, I knew that I wanted our home and garden to reflect our lives in UK and our Persian heritage. So, it is not surprising that we have an English Cottage style garden.
My daughters and my late nephew were born in England so the English daisies in my garden are the reminder of that. In the front of my house, Parrotia Persicas, a tree native to Iran, reminds me of the country that my family left behind so many years ago because of the revolution.
Whether it is in my own life or in our house and garden, I believe in structure. But in the midst of all the structure, I like chaos. This holds especially true for our garden. I have driven many gardeners crazy with this approach, but this works for me. I am told that I have an “interesting” way of mixing colors. I suppose that comes from my design background along with my total respect for Mother Nature. I don’t believe in following a color formula when it comes to our garden, since Mother Nature has taught me that I don’t have to.
Shades of green on green add interest and movement for the eyes. Together they make one statement, and yet individually, each plant has a voice of its own. Everything is growing within each other as though the leaves are whispering in each other’s ears. I often wonder what stories they are telling each other. For me, this sense of collectiveness creates a beautiful and strong dichotomy – a loud but a hushed sense of harmony for both the soul and the eyes. When a flower’s end comes, next to it, another flower is waiting anxiously for her turn to burst out with color. A pleasant reminder of the cycle of life.
The most sacred and cherished plant in our garden is the cherry tree that we planted to honor my late nephew. In the first year, our cherry tree fruited 21 cherries. My sister was the first to count that initial batch of cherries.
At first she counted only 20 cherries which made her sad and disappointed. I helped her to count the cherries again and this time, we found cherry #21 which was hiding under a leaf, being shy as it was the smallest of all the cherries. My sister re-counted the cherries for the third time to make sure there were 21 of them. At that moment, the smallest cherry became the most noble one.
She shouted for joy and opened her arms toward the sky to thank the universe for her gift. You see, Zhubin was 21 years old when he took his own life. By fruiting 21 cherries, the cherry tree that was planted in his memory was letting my sister know that Zhubin was in a better place where there was no more pain. Most importantly, our tiny cherry tree was, in its own way, gently teaching my sister that Zhubin was still with her and with us. This simple gift has been very comforting for all of us, but especially for my sister.
Our garden might be a small one, but it tells a bigger story – a bit of a sad one, but at the same time, a moving and amazingly uplifting story. Another beautiful dichotomy.
Passerby’s have stopped me to tell me that for some reason, they feel moved when they walk by our garden. Some say they make a point to walk by in order to feel the energy and see what new flowers are popping up. Several have even left kind notes with similar messages in our post box. Their kinds words and their ability to sense the energy of our garden moves me very much. I’m humbled and honored.
Everyone is welcomed to our garden. I love it when people come and linger. I love it when the birds, bees and butterflies come and find food, water, and shelter there. I love it when the different raccoon families climb our cherry tree and pick those plump red fruits together as a family.
But more than anything, I love it when my sister comes and tends to the garden. She comes for her son’s birthdays and his anniversary. This is her way of caring and connecting with her son. For her, our small garden is a hollowed ground and it all began with us planting a tiny cherry tree in her son’s honor.
To find out more about Zhubin’s life story and his foundation, please visit http://www.zhubinfoundation.com.