the ALS garden…

*Summer of 2018

Hurricane Florence is the end of the garden as I know it. A huge tree fell on the fence, broke it, and destroyed the garden. We were lucky. Our house didn’t flood, a tree didn’t crash into the house, windows didn’t break, just the fence and garden. I would share a photo of it here but our Internet is down so it will have to wait. Hot spotting a laptop with a phone is a poor excuse for Internet. Photographs will not load, too much data in them.

The garden cannot be allowed to whither away. I won’t have it. The glowing garden has always been a life metaphor for this ALS life we have going on here. It has to be remade and remade even better than before.

I’m certain I cannot do this by myself this time around. Garden party anyone?

August 2014



What a mess the backyard has been. No garden, no color, just grass, weeds and more grass and more weeds.

Getting a garden started is a ton of work. I am not known to have a green thumb or enjoy hard, physical labor. Tom, on the other hand, my spouse, who always knew how to work hard and would make a hundred gardens for me if that was what I wanted, is not physically capable of this anymore. He has created gardens everywhere we have lived. They have always been beautiful. He has said this a thousand times about a garden: it should give color or fragrance, if doesn’t, it isn’t worth the effort.

When we lived in New York our house had many windows. Tom planted gardens strategically so we could see them from just about anywhere in the house. I wanted to do the same for him, for us, in our new home.

When we moved into our new home, it was new, like in brand new. It had nothing but grass growing in the mostly sandy soil. We built a home not too far from the beach. When Tom was diagnosed with ALS, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, we decided to live the life we always dreamed of having. We both grew up on Long Island, and have quite an affinity for the beach. Moving to the coast of North Carolina was one of the easiest decisions we ever made.

As one can imagine, ALS brings on all kinds of limitations, not the least of which is being home more, rather than less, some days. My motivation to taking on this crazy idea of gardening was so when we can’t get out we have an abundant garden to enjoy. We both love photography and anticipate photographing the arrival of butterflies, lizards, frogs, bees, etc. that will visit.

It never occurred to me how much of the work I would have to do myself when beginning this project but once into it I had to finish it. Tom watches, I work. This didn’t feel so great, at first, until we saw the humor in the mess I make out of everything and how he was going to have to tolerate that.

He didn’t tell me about the weeds. They are like a nasty enemy that refuse to be defeated. He did such a great job keeping up with our gardens I had no idea weeds were even a thing. They are beastly, and unkind, and ugly. I have had to attack them over and over. I asked Tom for the quick solution and he said there isn’t any, it’s laborious, and makes us love the flowers even more because we have to work for the beauty. Hard to convince me of this when the weeds are choking the thorny roses. I have produced more sweat, and tears, over this project than I thought humanly possible. Has it been worth it? Only time will tell.




Summer of 2017

Three years of growth in our garden. The work it took to cut the garden, plant the plants, put down the mulch, master the weeds, and do it by myself, has been worth it. It gives back all the time.

It gives back in the spring as the plants begin to show life.

It gives back in the summer when it is robust with color.

It gives back  when the bees, butterflies, and birds visit it.

It gives back when the dogs roam through it.

It gives back when sit in it with a glass of wine in the late afternoon, just the two of us…and the dogs.

It gives back in the fall with last minute bursts of blooms that are fooled by warm weather.

It gives back, with hope, in the winter.

Hope that we will have another season together.

Meet Pinky – she is a mini dachshund full of vim and vigor. Her favorite part of the garden is chasing after butterflies. Truth be told she has had her share of butterfly catches. It hasn’t ended well for them.

The bees were in abundance this year.

A pair of cardinals were frequent visitors.

A butterfly that escaped capture by Pinky.

Meet Mimi – a mini dachshund – a certified bug finder, mole detector, and Gecko stalker. Did you know a Gecko losses its green color when they are no longer alive? Mimi taught us this with her ruthless hunting skills.

Meet Maddie – she is Tom’s service dog – people often ask if she ever has any fun. Yes, yes she does, more than one can imagine.

Wine bench.


A favorite photo – July 2017