In a life ruled by chronic pain, it is pure wonder to step through the back door and into my own haven, my own little piece of the Earth.

It’s by no means a large garden or a well-groomed one; it’s wild and unkempt and full of evergreen bushes in raised beds.

I have a wildlife pond that, in the summer months, is surrounded by marginals: king cups, lilies, water mint, and marsh grasses. The water is teeming with insects—water slaters crawl over underwater rocks and leaves, daphnia flit in saltatory motion, the larvae of air-borne insects such as mayflies and caddisflies wriggle through the water, pond skaters skim the surface, and water boatmen paddle through, using their back legs like oars as they carry a bubble of air to help them breathe as they swim. I can stare at the water for hours.

Many of my evergreen shrubs start to flower at this time of year. The thorny pyracantha is covered in tiny white flowers; the fuchsia nods its cerise and purple heads in the gentlest breeze; and the ceanothus, of which we have several varieties, bloom in varying shades of blue. The honeysuckle that climbs the side of our catio is just beginning to flower and will soon bathe the garden with its delicious fragrance in the evening air.

Our garden is usually abuzz with insects by this time of year, but this year everything is late. Last year’s unusually hot summer, a mild winter, and a long, cold, and wet spring have affected the natural order of things. The bumble and honey bees are only just appearing, and I am seeing very few butterflies and moths.

Our bushes and oak tree are full of the chirps and twitters of birds. Wrens, blue tits, goldfinches, sparrows, and blackbirds fill the days with their merry tunes. Wood pigeons have fledged twice this year, and collared doves, blackbirds, and sparrows frequently nest.

Preservation is key.


As nighttime descends,
Insects hum around the pond.
Bats take to the wing.

And my connection to Mother Earth is complete.

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    Julie Harris
    Julie Harris(@julie-harris)
    3 months ago

    Carrie, this is a beautiful essay. As an avid gardener myself, I so love your vivid and detailed description of the flora and fauna in your wonderful back yard paradise. I’m a great fan of wild and unkempt, but really it sounds as though your wildness is also quite organized. Some of the plants and insects I don’t know, as we don’t have them in my neck of the woods, and I’m… Read more »

    Margarida Brei
    Margarida Brei(@margarida-brei)
    3 months ago

    I love the detailed description of Mother Earth!

    Linda Rock
    Linda Rock(@linda-rock)
    3 months ago

    Carrie, this was a joy to read. I love gardens that are wild and unruly and your garden sounds just like heaven. I’m so glad it gives you some relief from pain. Nature is truly wonderful.

    Margarida Brei
    Margarida Brei(@margarida-brei)
    3 months ago

    Carrie, just out of curiosity- is the description really of your own garden?

    Deborah Goulding
    Deborah Goulding(@deborah-goulding)
    3 months ago

    Carrie, I feel as though I had a visit to your beautiful wild, willowy garden! Your description is so clear and precise. I wish I could write this way! I prefer this type of a garden over plants neatly spaced and placed. Living in south Florida for so many years, we had bought a mid century home with lots of flaws. The character though, superseded the quirky style! We had many hibiscus… Read more »

    Deborah Goulding
    Deborah Goulding(@deborah-goulding)
    Reply to  Carrie OLeary
    3 months ago

    Thank you Carrie. I do miss the sub tropics of South Florida. Enjoy your visit!

    Lotchie Carmelo
    Lotchie Carmelo(@lotchie-carmelo)
    3 months ago

    Oh! What a beautiful garden you have, Carrie. And the thorny pyracantha catch my attention so I research about it. Pyracantha is very beautiful but sadly we don’t have it in my place. I honestly wish to have a garden like yours. Your detailed description is very effective. Well done, Carrie.

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