To Move or not to Move, that is the question.

This day has come much sooner than I expected, I was hoping that we would have another 10 yrs maybe  in this house, before the garden got too big for us to manage.

Seedling Geranium Spinners.

Seedling Geranium Spinners.

As most of you know, unfortunately the undergardener was diagnosed with prostate cancer at the end of 2014. After all his treatment last year and being told that it was successful we were devastated to be told in May, this year, that it had returned. My husband looks fine but has no strength and no stamina, so any gardening that is getting done, was being done by me these days.

Geum Totally Tangerine.

Geum Totally Tangerine.

My muscle problems are still in the background with good days, when 3/4 hourly stints are all I can manage, and bad days when nothing gets done at all. As you can imagine this means that the garden is looking very neglected and it is so frustrating to see it looking like this. I have had to be very careful when taking photos for the blog, not to include all the weeds!



So yes, we actually had the conversation, should we move or get a gardener to help. After a lot of thought, well no, immediately I said I preferred to get a gardener! I could quite happily leave the house, but having made the garden from scratch, I just can’t bear to leave it, not for a long time yet! I know the day will come when I will have to leave it, but I’m putting it off for as long as possible.

Herbacious Clemaris durandii.

Herbacious Clemaris durandii.

I went on line and found a website with gardeners in the local area, but didn’t just want someone who only cuts lawns and then doesn’t know their plants when it comes to weeding or pruning! The undergardener still enjoys riding round on his lawn mower, so I needed someone with muscles, to do the hedges, dig out tree and shrub roots as well as help me with the weeding.



I managed to find someone, Neil,  who has RHS certificates and diplomas, so should know what he is doing and not pull out my precious plants as weeds! He came and had a look at the garden and the work that I needed help with and agreed that yes, he was happy to come and work with me and will slot me in between his other clients until he has a permanent slot for me. To start with he will come once a week to help with the restoration, then when the garden is looking more like it used to, then he will come once a fortnight to help with the maintenance.

Double Geranium.

Double Geranium.

Neil came the last two Saturdays for 4 hrs each time and again yesterday for 4 hrs, in spite of all the rain, and each  time has worked so hard and got an amazing amount of work done. I think we are going to work well together and hopefully the undergardener and I will have many more happy  years here in the future.

Iris ensata

Iris ensata

We saw the Oncologist last week and she now has the undergardener’s course of treatment sorted. She has the results of all the scans and blood tests that have been done over the last few weeks and says that the best way forward is for a course of chemo. We had a feeling that this would be the result, so were not very surprised. The treatment starts this week, one session every three weeks and will last until the beginning of February, but we have been told that we will know before that if the treatment is working.  Everyone round us has been wonderfully supportive, it is so easy to stay positive when we are surrounded by such a cocoon of love, long may it continue.



I have been warned that the undergardener will be very tired for a few days after each session of treatment, so I’m trying to get each sitting area back up to scratch, so that he will have a choice of places to sit, either in the sun or shade, whatever takes his fancy. I will try and get each area surrounded with lovely perfumed plants so that he can enjoy a bit of aromatherapy while he is resting, even though he might not realise it!

So the answer to the question in the header – To move or not to move?- that’s easy, we’re staying put for as long as possible!

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41 Responses to To Move or not to Move, that is the question.

  1. marie says:

    My deepest sympathies.

  2. rusty duck says:

    I’m sorry to read your news Pauline and hope that the treatment will prove successful this time around.
    There is a definite vulnerability in having a big garden that needs both of you to manage, something that is in my mind much of the time. Having help though is a good way forward. We have a couple of chaps to call on for the really heavy jobs and it makes a huge difference, even just to have them both here for half a day often gets more done than we could achieve in a week.
    Good luck and best wishes to both of you.

    • Pauline says:

      Thank you for your good wishes Jessica. When we bought the house we were mere youngsters, only 47, so we had plenty of energy then! I’ll also have to think of ways to simplify the garden so that the work load is less.

  3. AnnetteM says:

    When I read the title of your post I thought you were talking about a plant. Nothing so serious as a house move. I am so glad that you have managed to find some good help in the garden as you have undoubtedly made the right decision. I wish the undergardener all the very best with this next course of treatment and hope you manage to keep your back working. I seem to remember you saying you were doing Pilates? Are you managing to keep up with it? I think it is the very best thing for backs, but I also use a physio, a sports therapist (who does the most amazing massages) and am now trying acupuncture for arthritis (of thumbs!). Anything so I can keep gardening. Your flowers are beautiful, especially the Iris ensata. You have some difficult times ahead, again, but with the help of your garden you will get through it. We will all be thinking of you.

  4. Val says:

    I think it’s wonderful that you are keeping the garden going with a gardener rather than moving (which would cause you both incredible amounts of stress not to mention the money and time involved) but more than that, it’s wonderful that you’re keeping the garden going and looking nice so that your undergardener has something to enjoy through the coming months of treatment. I’m so sorry for all that – such a horrible thing to have to go through, I’ve had many members of my family and a few friends who’ve had cancer and know what it’s like.

    Your flowers look beautiful. Don’t worry about us seeing the weeds, they’re all part of nature.

  5. I’m sorry to hear the two of you are going through this, but I applaud you Pauline for your strength and your lovely ideas for making the undergardener comfortable in the days after his treatments. Autumn is my favorite time of year and I can imagine some gorgeous days in the garden for him, with warm sunshine and a cup of tea. How lucky, too, that you now have Neil to give you a hand. You have been very sensible to find just the right person and settle everything expediently. I will be thinking about you and the undergardener and sending an abundance of good thoughts from South Carolina.

  6. Susie says:

    Pauline, sending you peace and hugs. Hope the undergardener does well with the treatment. Enjoying the various views of the garden and aromatherapy will be a splendid way to recover.
    Somehow I didn’t realize your muscle problems were so limiting to your garden activity. It must be frustrating. Having knowledgeable assistance seems a wise idea and you seem to have found a treasure in Neil. Keeping you in my thoughts. Susie

  7. Anna says:

    I am so sorry to hear that you are going through difficult times again Pauline. Sending you much love. Moving house let alone garden is so stressful even at the best of times so I am glad that you have decided to stay put. It sounds as Neil is the perfect solution to your concerns about the garden. You will both benefit from those planned scented oasises. Take care xxx

  8. Chloris says:

    So sorry to hear that the Undergardener needs more treatment and that you are finding the garden difficult. I am glad so that you are not planning to leave your beautiful garden. It would be heart breaking. It is great that you have managed to find someone who can help you, I know good garden help is difficult to find. Wishing you both all the best. X

  9. Alison says:

    So sorry to hear the undergardener is sick again, but hopeful that this round of chemo will do the trick. I’ve had a rough year healthwise as well, and have had trouble keeping up, so I know how you feel. Sounds like you’ve found a real treasure in your new garden help Neil. It’s almost impossible to find anyone here in the U.S. with any experience with actual gardening. All they know is how to cut grass and clip hedges.

    • Pauline says:

      Thank you all so much for your concern and good wishes, it means so much to us. We are hoping of course, that the treatment works better this time, but only time will tell.
      I agree, I have found a gem in Neil, he is such a good worker and is so thorough in everything that he does, we are both very impressed with him and the work that he has done so far.
      Annette, I’m afraid you must be confusing me with someone else, it’s not me that does pilates. It is my upper arm and upper leg muscles that are my problem, not my back, and have been now for over 5 yrs. I have now found that a few short spells of working in the garden is far better for me than one long session. I still have to watch that I don’t overdo it though, otherwise I pay for it the next day.

      • AnnetteM says:

        Sorry for confusing you with someone else Pauline. I think there are quite a few of us who manage to garden despite various problems. One of my problems unfortunately is a very poor memory! At least you know what your limits are and now you have Neil it should be easier to stick to them. I can only echo what others have said, that we look forward to many more posts from your lovely garden.

  10. shirley says:

    A garden can be such healing place, Pauline, I do believe you have very much made the right decision here. Together with Neil you’ll be able to keep the garden you created with the undergardener under control. Enhancing planting around seating areas is a wonderful way to take your garden forward. Through the undergardener’s treatment I suspect there will be difficult, tiring days ahead for you both. Enjoy your sanctuary that is your garden. Best wishes to you both.

  11. Denise says:

    I just love your positive and can-do attitude Pauline. Having come across you and your beautiful garden not too long ago I would be sad if you were to move now so long may you and the undergardener continue! Wishing you both all the best…… Lovely photos as always.

  12. Cathy says:

    Oh, that is bad news Pauline, but I think you sound very sure of your decision to stay and for now a move would probably not help you at all with all the upheaval! I wish you lots of luck with your new garden help and of course the best of luck with the chemo for the Head Gardener too. I would also hate to leave my garden, having created it from scratch, so quite understand the dilemma. The scented sitting areas are such a lovely idea and will be a boost to you both!

  13. Alain says:

    I am sorry to hear the bad news Pauline. We who are retired all have to make such decisions some day. When our turn comes, it will help to have seen other people (like you) coping and finding solutions. The new gardener sounds very promising. I am glad for you. Personally, I also hope for an other 10 years (in my case it is Parkinson), time will tell!
    I have a very close friend whose garden has gone from show case to ruins in the last ten years and then this Spring she lost her husband. Yet, she still live in the big house and enjoys the areas she can still care for with some help. The sections she had to let go remain quite interesting even if they have turned to jungle. She intends to stay as long as she can.
    Good luck Pauline!

    • Pauline says:

      So sorry to hear about your Parkinsons Alain, you must struggle at times with your garden too. but your garden always looks so neat and tidy in your photos.

  14. Cathy says:

    I saw the title and opened your post with a small sense of foreboding, knowing how much you love your garden so am relieved that you have been able to compromise and stay put thanks to your young man. What an open and honest post you have written – healing thoughts are being sent to both you and the Undergardener for an improvement in your health. Even if Annette has mixed you up with someone else and you don’t do Pilates do consider holistic therapies or treatments for yourself as they are a safe and medicine-free means towards better health, and also for the Undergardener to support his treatment. Best wishes to both of you

  15. Frank says:

    I’m so disappointed that the first round of treatment wasn’t completely successful. I hope this next one goes by quickly and as issue free as these sorts of things can be. Wishing all the best for both of you.
    I think you are going to really enjoy having a Neil around, I sure wouldn’t mind one myself! Also as selfish as it may sound I’m very relieved you’re not moving. I would really miss your updates on this garden even though I’m sure you’d move right into another!

  16. Sigrun says:

    I’m so sorry to hear about the health of you and your untergardener! That a very bad news. So good, that you found a help for your garden. It is always the same, you can find someone for the hedges and the lawn, but nowone for the perennials and the garden.
    I wish you and your husband all the best, thinking positive at all time is the best what you can do for yourself and him.


    • Pauline says:

      Sorry Sigrun, I have only just found your message, 5 months later!
      Thank you so much for your concern, we are taking each day at a time and staying very positive, even though the news isn’t too good at the moment.

  17. Jason says:

    I’m so sorry to hear about the undergardener’s illness. I hope this new course of treatment is successful. I’m glad, though, that you found a good person to help you keep the garden going. I wouldn’t want to move either!

    • Pauline says:

      The family are overwhelmed after reading all your lovely comments, thank you all so much for all your good wishes. The first session of chemo went very well and the undergardener seems remarkably well, a lot better than I expected. It is early days as yet, but hopefully it will continue like this in the coming weeks, the next session is in 3 weeks time, I will keep you all up to date!

  18. Sue C. says:

    I am really sorry to hear about the difficult times you are both going through. Let’s hope the chemo does it’s job. I’m glad you have decided to stay with your house and garden. I’m sure it would have been a real wrench to leave after having created it and you would have felt you had been forced out before the time was right. With the help of your gardener hopefully you will be able to manage to still enjoy your special space. I imagine it will give you a focus and have a restorative effect in the months to come. Best wishes to you both.

  19. Kate Patel says:

    Pauline, your post brought a tear to my eye for you both and the family. Your resolve to stay for the garden is so understandable to me, surely seeing the garden restored with Neil’s help will be a tonic for you all. Best wishes, Kate.

  20. Pauline says:

    Thank you Kate and Sue, we do appreciate your lovely comments and good wishes. It wasn’t a good weekend for hubby but he is improving now thank goodness. We were warned this would happen and then he should improve over the next 3 weeks when he will be ready for his next session and it will all happen again.

  21. snowbird says:

    I’m glad you’re staying Pauline, how heartbreaking it would be to leave such a beautiful garden that you have built over the years. I’m so sorry to hear that the under gardener needs more treatment but like you, I’m sure all will be well. I love the seating ideas you have for his recovery. Sending love and

    • Pauline says:

      Thanks Dina, I would hate to leave the garden, but will have to face it one day unfortunately, that’s the problem with having a large space. The sitting area still needs some more work doing, but I’m getting there. New containers and plants have been ordered and the painting of benches continues, hopefully the painting will soon be finished.

  22. I’m so pleased that you have found someone to help with your beautiful garden Pauline. I think we all know that this dilemma will come to us all sooner or later and we are all hoping that it will be later rather than sooner! My good wishes go to the under-gardener, and I hope the treatment will be successful this time. Don’t worry about showing us a few weeds or even a lot – we all hide somethings with our cameras so some truth won’t hurt.

    • Pauline says:

      Christina, we knew we would have to make the decision one day, but hadn’t thought it would come so soon. Having Neil’s help means we should hopefully be able to stay here for another 10 yrs, after that, I think I will have to give in gracefully!
      Thank you for your good wishes for the under gardener, we do appreciate them.

  23. Liz says:

    Hi Pauline,

    Sorry to hear your news; but I’m glad also to hear you will be able to stay in your lovely home for years to come.

    My dad is currently undergoing chemo and I’ve been doing a lot of their gardening. I dont know how they get the amount of weeds they do… It feels never ending. There is a lot of support (websites) for both patients and family of ppl with cancer out there if you’re ever feeling over-whelmed. Everyone reacts differently and I’ve found them helpful.

    • Pauline says:

      Sorry to hear about your Dad Liz, you are lucky to be near enough to help him with the garden. I have never known a year for weeds, they just keep growing as soon as you deal with them.
      Even if we had decided to move, we would have had to get someone to tidy the garden otherwise no one would want to buy the house!
      So far we are both being very positive about the outcome of hubby’s chemo, but we have been given loads of contact numbers and websites for help if we need it, the people at the hospital couldn’t have been more helpful.

  24. Diana Studer says:

    Strong motivation for those enticing bluegrass benches – lovely to think of healing among those gentle blue greys.

    We left Porterville when the large garden tipped from being a delight, to it is too much for us. What a relief for you to find someone competent, who can make a reassuring difference to the ‘too much garden’ work.

    • Pauline says:

      I have almost finished painting the two benches and a little table Diana and think they will look nice and calming no matter how hot it gets, surrounded by blue/silver perfumed plants.
      I am lucky to have found Neil, he is such a good worker, I just have to keep him provided with lots of cups of tea!

  25. annie_h says:

    So sorry to hear your news Pauline, a difficult time, but glad that you have made the decision to stay in your home and garden. It will give you such joy for years to come. Glad you are happy with your new gardener, sounds like a good partnership.

    • Pauline says:

      Thank you so much Annie for your good wishes. The undergardener is coping well since his first lot of chemo, it will be going in a 3 week cycle, this week he should be feeling good once more, ready for his next dose at the end of this week.
      Neil, the gardener is working very hard when he comes. I’m so glad I found him, he is a real asset and I can see that he will have the garden sorted by the end of the year, then we will be able to start next year with a clean slate.

  26. Wendy says:

    I am sorry to hear your news, Pauline. I am glad you’ve found Neil so that he can help with your lovely garden and that you do feel able to stay. I love the idea of the seating areas and the perfumed plants to help with the healing. My very best wishes to you both x

    • Pauline says:

      Thank you so much Wendy for your kind thoughts, we do appreciate them. The sitting area will get a lot of use now that it has been improved and will be even better when the flowers are pumping out their delicious perfume.

  27. Helle says:

    So sorry to hear the blasted disease has returned. Good luck with the treatment and I’m sure a lovely sitting area with lots of fragrant flowers will be a great help. Oh I can definitely understand that you’d be unhappy to leave your garden. I could also easily leave the house, but the garden, that would be a very different thing. By the way, those meconopsis seeds I sent, did they germinate? Mine didn’t, so it would be very unfortunate if I sent you duds.

    • Pauline says:

      Thank you so much for your good wishes Helle, so kind of you. We are coping with the treatment, the undergardener has now had 2 sessions of chemo, the first week afterwards is pretty horrible, but after that he gradually improves until it is time for the next one!
      I’m afraid I didn’t have any success with your seeds, I thought it was me! I bought a couple of plants and have now saved the seed from them, so hopefully I will have flowers in the not too distant future.

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