Tales from My Garden–Fables in the Making


Last spring, I posted a photo of what was the gate into my garden at that time. People oohed and ahhhed, and if I had been more intelligent, I would have left well enough alone, but while my grape arbor looked ok at the time, I had failed to attach it to my house or to anything else that was solid enough. As the grapevines began to flourish, my arbor had begun to lean.  I decided to bite the bullet and tear the whole thing down and begin again. That was the beginning of a series of missteps that have prompted me to write Fables from My Garden  – Jacki Kellum’s Cautionary Tales.

I have already shared two morals with you:

  1. Leave Well Enough Alone
  2. Never Build ANYTHING–not even a little grape arbor– without a proper foundation.


My Back Garden – Summer of 2015


Before I began rebuilding my new grape arbor, my back garden was beautiful. It was almost perfect.


My Back Garden in August of 2015


My water feature and that area were lovely last summer. Yet, I somehow did not feel that my water area was perfect enough. Again, the rose arbor behind the water feature was an extension of the grape arbor and not only was it not supported well, but it was also built with junk wood. I decided to also tear the rose arbor out entirely and to rebuild that, too

Unfortunately, the summer ended before I was able to put everything back together again.

11802684_10207603596151069_7690467983689140327_oIn order to build a sturdy grape arbor, I had to destroy almost all of the grapes that I had growing last summer.My grape arbor still looks like a chicken whose feathers have been plucked. As I built the framework for my new arbor last fall, I constructed some new raised beds, too. I took the above photograph last fall. As you see in the above photo, I became very enthusiastic about my trellis building, and I continued the network of trellises and raised beds all around my yard.


September 2015 in my Back Garden

In the above photo, you see that I had moved my rose arbor from behind my pond to a spot further back in my yard.


September 2015 in my Back Garden – There was no arbor behind my pond at that time.

In order to temporarily camouflage the fact that almost all of what have been beautiful in my garden before was now gone, I placed fall mums and a young  Bloodgood Japanese Maple near my pond.


While things were blooming, my back yard seemed okay, but as soon as winter hit, the barrenness became obvious. During the winter, my back yard was ugly, but it was a project in process. I could still see the light at the end of the tunnel, but then, I suffered a small natural disaster.

That is when high winds in February and a snowstorm knocked down my huge magnolia tree and destroyed all of the work that I had done, in building my new rose arbor toward the back of my yard.

My neighbors helped me clear the fallen magnolia from my yard, but even as summer has begun, the shredded and toppled lumber are still scattered all around my lawn.

Today is the first day that I have had enough energy to begin ripping out my destroyed arbor and to begin again in my backyard, but it is always much more difficult for me to clean up a mess than it is for me to build a new one.

So what are the fables–what are the words of wisdom in these tales so far?

I repeat the first lessons that I had learned, long before my yard became a total disaster area:

  1. Leave Well Enough Alone
  2. Never build ANYTHING–not even a little grape arbor– without a proper foundation.

You can see from my photos that several times before I started all over, I had a beautiful yard; but something within me wanted more.

Like Icarus of Icarus and Daedalus, I wanted to sail higher and higher in my garden and the inevitable happened: my wings melted and my entire garden came toppling to the ground.


This story is also hauntingly close to that of Narcissus. Time and again, I had a beautiful pool of water, but as I looked into my pool, I only saw something more that I didn’t yet have. In trying to get more, I lost what I had, and now, it is 2016. With a bruised ego and a destroyed backyard today, I began rebuilding.

There is still another moral in my garden tales, however, and here it is: Even when we have done everything perfectly, there still lurks the possibility that natural disasters will occur and will level our playing fields anyway.

I should have learned that lesson by now. When I was 53-years-old and living in Mississippi, a fire burned my house to the ground. When I moved to New Jersey from Mississippi, I was starting over, and yet, this winter, a tree fell and destroyed my backyard, and I am starting still another time.

Compared to a house fire, a tree’s falling is nothing more than an inconvenience, but it is still a loss–a loss of things.

The most important message from these tales is this, however: Don’t ever become so very invested in the things of life that you stop taking the time to live. When the final trumpet blows, it won’t be the things that we have acquired or created during our lifetimes that define us. It will be the people that we became in the process.

If I am lucky, I’ll eventually have my garden repaired, and I’ll at least be back at square one again on that task. I’ll be older and tireder for my next go around, but I’ll also be wiser, too.

©Jacki Kellum June 24, 2016







2 thoughts on “Tales from My Garden–Fables in the Making

  1. I’m glad and relieved you are rebuilding. For the part before–for what makes necessary the rebuilding–I’m sorry and sad. I guess that’s the cautionary part of the cautionary tale. You and nature seem to get along pretty well, given the capriciousness of nature (sorry–I’ve been reading about the floods in West Virginia). I trust the alliance will progress as does your reconstruction.

    Good luck, dear friend!

    Liked by 1 person

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