Saying Goodbye

Treetop's Southern Magnolia in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Treetop’s Southern Magnolia (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

Named for the view from her bedroom window, Tree Tops was what my aunt chose to call the home she and my uncle purchased in Oyster Bay, Long Island fifty four years ago.  Following her love of art and all things beautiful, she spent several years learning many different forms of artistry; from antique restoration, reverse glass painting and theorems, to gold leaf techniques; finally sharing her passion with many students over the next several decades.  And her artistic touch didn’t stop there; her home and gardens were a tribute to both her skills and ability to collect the most unique pieces.  Upon entering the grounds, you were surrounded with cherished garden structures that complemented a variety of choice trees painstakingly sited and planted over fifty years ago.  Among them a stately beech, rapturous metasequoia, formidable maples and my favorite, a Southern magnolia with glorious, polished emerald leaves that adorned the tree and her mantle every winter.  These precious acquisitions embellish the property, making it a treat for the eyes and inspiration for the soul.  But that’s not what made it a home for her over the last fifty four years, no it was more than just objects, it was her spirit.

And that is what tugs at each of our souls as we plant another tree or remodel our kitchen.  In each of those hand-picked ceramic tiles or specimen trees, there is more than the material substance value.  There is a piece of ourselves.  And what stirs deep inside of us is the fear that someday we will have to leave all our works, hence a piece of ourselves, behind.

Treetop's established beech in A Garden For All by Kathy diemer

Treetop’s established beech (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

So how do we handle that knowledge?  The fact that a home you spent decades of your life editing till it was close to perfection, could be turned over to someone that would callously tear down everything you once held so dear and change those beloved places into something you would find revolting?  Some may be lucky enough to have both the finances and physical ability to stay in their cherished abodes, but for those of us that won’t, there is still some consolation. We can take our talents and experiences with us, as well as our collections and maybe even dig up some manageable shrubs and plants, once again starting anew.

Twenty two years ago, I named our home Howling Hills Farm for the coyotes that howl up on the hills behind us.  We’ve spent the last two decades remodeling our home and yard, choosing irreplaceable treasures for inside and out.  Now, it is I that cringes to think of parting with the Metasequoia glyptostroboides it look me two years to find, or the Stewartia pseudocamellia that is finally coming into its own, or the golden specimen Picea orientalis that was missed by inches when a locust fell during the hurricane last year.  All these trees and shrubs I searched and searched to find just the right form, many are not even available anymore.  And plants that I might find, would never grow to the size they are now in my lifetime.

Treetop's Heirloom Metasequoia in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Treetop’s Heirloom Metasequoia (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

Although we may someday have to move on and leave behind our many treasures, remember that we are always keeping with us the most important ingredient: our essence.  And, ultimately we can take some comfort in the knowledge that if left to their own accord, those trees we planted and treasured will live on (in our memories) and thrive long after we’re gone.

~Remember, when one door closes another one opens.  I hope all your doors open to an adventurous and rewarding New Year~


  1. What a beautiful post – and one I can certainly relate to. Adventures abound!

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