Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Fading Ghost Garden

Some friends had an old home on their property which had fallen into disrepair and needed to go.  I hate to see old homesteads disappear, but this one was getting dangerous and would have cost a fortune to restore.  Sad to see it go, but as a fitting ending to this home, the local fire department used it for a controlled-burn training session, so that was a good thing.  I wanted to watch the burn (we all have a touch of pyromania in us) but had to keep the Garden Center open as it took place on a Saturday morning.  It did get me thinking about the disappearing homesteads which usually leave behind Ghost Gardens. 

 You have probably seen a Ghost Garden and not even realized it.  Maybe it’s a very straight row of daffodils where a straight line seems so out of place or a pair of trees positioned just so, to provide shade for something not there.  Maybe, a cluster of breathtakingly beautiful bearded irises mixed in a tangle of weeds.  These are the remnants of a garden which once encircled a home, planted, so many years ago by someone long gone.  Who planted these bulbs and old rambling roses?  Did some of these beauties fill a vase in the center of the kitchen table?  Was fig jam once made from the over grown tree?  Did apple pies cool on a window ledge made from apples gathered from what is now a rotted stump?   Ghost Gardens are getting harder to find, but if you know what you are looking for you may find one set back from a busy street or down a little used road.  Most of these gardens have been cleared away by bulldozers as they make way for new developments or completely choked out by weeds and neglect, but if you are lucky enough to find one of these fading memories, grab a spade and dig up a bulb or snip a branch to root.  They will soon be gone forever but you can keep a part of its history alive in your own garden.


  1. Greg Grant is a horticulturist in east Texas who goes around to abandoned home sites looking for just such Ghost Garden plants that have been thriving on neglect. He digs them or propagates them and gets them into the nursery industry and we all benefit by his efforts and get to have those great plants in our gardens.

  2. Funny how just the other day we were on a bike ride and passed by carragana and lilac in what seemed to be off the beaten path. Great post.

  3. I grew up in Maine. Driving or walking through the woods you would see things that felt out of place. We loved trying to figure out what was there. We could never forget there were people living in our area long before we were. A deep sense of history and the everyday people who made it.

  4. Beautiful post! I've often wondered who created these "Ghost Gardens."

    Thank you.