Tuesday, February 17, 2009

One Year Ago Today

Some of you have been following our blog from the very beginning and others of you have joined us in the past few months. For our new arrivals, I would like to share an amazing garden story with you. It's how Our Eden came to be. On February 17, 2008 a horrible tornado hit our neighborhood. Today is the one year anniversary of the storm.

We were so fortunate compared to others in our neighborhood. The tornado picked up the right section of our roof about two feet and simply sat it back down within four inches of where it originally rested.


Our neighbors across the street were not so fortunate.


Jamie and I had just decided to go full force in the garden and had created numerous beds and planting areas. We had over 280 different species of plants, shrubs and trees planted in our new garden; all of which were buried under debris and five forty year old fallen trees. We knew the insurance would fix the house, but all the time, money and energy spent in the new garden was all gone. We both knew in our hearts that we would never have the money to do it all again and quite frankly, we just didn’t have the energy.


As the repairs were being done on the inside of the house, Jamie and I worked feverishly in the garden cleaning everything up.



Heavy equipment was brought in to remove all the trees and debris. In those two weeks, Jamie and I placed about four full-sized dump truck loads of material out beside the road. In the process, everything we had previously planted was scooped up in a bobcat and hauled away, with the exception of two shrubs, a camellia and a gardenia.



We were left with a mucky, soggy and miserable mess filled with spring weeds and crab grass. Jamie and I had made the difficult decision not to rebuild the garden. The money and the enthusiasm were just no longer there. We talked to our dear friends at Gardeners Gumbo and told them we would not continue. In a matter of days Jamie and I received an envelope in the mail containing a Plant Delights catalog and a very generous gift certificate from the members and owner of the site. We were so very excited to look through the catalog! If the members of our garden club could chip in to buy us plants, we could certainly make a bed to put them in and so to work we went. We decided the best way to cover up the mess in the back yard was to put it under a huge bed. We spent the next two weeks digging up the roots and stumps of three forty year old trees by hand. The work was back breaking, but we didn’t care.


During the time we were working on the new bed, the most amazing thing happened. News had spread to other gardeners we had traded with and a massive effort had been put into action. Jamie and I started receiving plants, gift certificates and seeds from all over the world, even as far away as Australia! Gifts from strangers we had never even talked to or heard of before. It was absolutely amazing; gardeners have such kind and generous hearts. Tina, I just realized the other day we received seeds from you before you ever even became a reader of Creating Our Eden. You sign your seed packs, don’t you? They were a gift from a lady in Arizona that had extras to spare. You are part of our garden and you didn’t even realize it. The eastern redbud below is the first thing we planted when we decided to start over.


Friends, in less than six months a new garden was created from a completely blank, earthen canvas. It was born from the love and kindness of gardeners all over the world; from the generosity of old friends, new friends we never had a chance to meet and a little hard work on the part of Jamie and I. We literally spent every free second and penny we had into creating our little garden, but it could never have happened were it not for the kindness of strangers. We send a heartfelt thank you to Jan, Donna, Sharon, Richard, Jeanne, Peg, Martha and numerous others for what you did for us. We will enjoy our garden for years to come. This blog has brought Jamie and I new friends and new opportunities we never dreamed of and we want to thank all of you for visiting us and giving us the encouragement we needed to keep going.








Niels Plougmann said...

What a gripping story! I always pray for my friends in the Midwest, who so far has been spared from a "touchdown". We only have small twisters over here and they rarely cause any damage.
Amzing to see that you were able to rebuild your garden and neighbourhood, in such a short time. I can only imagine how hard it was to dig up those treeroots by hand!
Wonderful to hear that people are willing to be charitable, when disaster strikes. Kind of restore a bit of faith in humanity.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Phillip, I am one of your newer readers. I am so glad that you brought this story to the fore once again. I know it is a most difficult part of your life. You and Randy have done such a great job in a short time in your garden. You can be proud of the great strides in bringing your garden back to life.

My dear Stepdad went through this same process only a little more severe just 3 years ago. A tornado totally destroyed his house. He was 85 years old then and couldn't face rebuilding in the same place especially since his next door neighbors child was killed and her father was critically injured. That entire neighborhood was destroyed. They were a close knit group so it was horrible as you would know.

I am so glad to find that you were able to rebuild and learn to enjoy your garden again. You have been mightly blessed.

jodi (bloomingwriter) said...

I thought it was getting to be close to this time, guys. It's been amazing to see the journey of rebuilding, and I hope no one in your community ever has to deal with such a horror again. I'm so glad we don't get tornadoes up here; they truly frighten me.

Wayne said...

I remember shortly after I started reading your blog the storm hit. It has been remarkable what you've been able to do in just one season! Imagine what it will grow into this year!

Jamie and Randy said...

Welcome to our blog, we are so glad you paid us a visit. :-) The storm was a terrible thing that I do not want to repeat again. We were shown kindness and generosity from a lot of people and I thought it was important to acknowledge it. Don’t be a stranger now, come back to see us again!

I couldn’t imagine having to go thru this at the age of 85. That’s an entire lifetime of memories swept away. We were so much more fortunate than others around us. You are right; we were very blessed, very blessed indeed.

That was along the time you started visiting us. I remember you saying you wished you lived closer so you could organize a workbee. :-) You have no idea how good it made us feel to hear that.

I can’t wait to see everything this year. I’m eager to get started in the garden, but I’m afraid the economy is going to put a little damper on our garden spending this year. I’m reluctant to turn loose of extra cash right now.

Chandramouli S said...

It's the story of the survivors and ones who wouldn't give up! You guys are such an inspiration. What a haven you guys have turned a part of Mother Earth into! I'm impressed. Your story is a definite inspiration for people who go into depression after a disaster.
Amidst the cruelty and violence all over our Mother Earth, it's great to hear that there were wonderful souls who extended their hands with a pinch of this and a dash of that, which built your haven today!
BTW, How're you and Jamie now? hope Jamie's completely recovered from the recent accident.

Cameron (Defining Your Home) said...

What an amazing story! I'm so happy that you continued to garden. Your garden is an Eden.


Roses and Lilacs said...

Gardeners are wonderful people as your story proves. This certainly reminds me what an impact sharing has in times of crisis.

A lot of people can take pride in the garden you've created.

Pam/Digging said...

Has it only been a year since that storm and your garden's new beginning? You've come so far in that time, and under such trying circumstances. I'm glad you didn't give up because I truly enjoy your garden via your blog. It's heartwarming too to hear how other gardeners shared seeds and plants with you.

Jamie and Randy said...

You always leave such encouraging comments! Thank you so much. Jamie is doing much better and he’s actually going to buy a new car today, he’s very excited about it. He woke up at about 3:30 this morning and could not go back to sleep. I’m doing much better, but I’m still sick. I’m ready to get rid of this stuff and get back to normal.

Most everyone already knew about what happened to us with the storm. But, we are so grateful for what everyone did for us we wanted tell the story again. I feel like now that a year has passed we can finally start putting those days behind us and move forward.

We told those people thank you repeatedly, but I don’t think they really have any grasp what it meant to us. Everyone was so nice and wonderful. There was one lady in particular named Martha, which just went above and beyond with her generosity and she quietly faded out of the picture and we haven’t heard from her since. I was going to try and describe what we feeling to you when we were extended help from these other gardeners, but I just erased all that I had typed because there is just simply no way to put it into words.

It’s only been a year, but it seems like an entire lifetime ago. Lord… this has been a year of change for us if there has ever been one. I’m still exhausted! LOL

Frances said...

Hi Jamie and Randy, with tears in my eyes your words have touched a part deep within. The feeling of not wanting to rebuild the garden changed by the kindness of strangers if beyond expression, yet you have done a masterful job in the retelling. Your hard work and strong spirits are inspiration to us all. Thank you thank you thank you.

Jan (Thanks For 2 Day) said...

Oh my goodness, Jamie & Randy, I'm speechless!
I have been so drawn to your blog, and your garden, since I met you 2which I think was some time in Dec?(I just started w/Blotanical in late November '08) so had NO idea of this event and what you have been through. It's an inspirational tale, a true story of 'rekindled determination' through the kindness of others! I really want your garden-can you please come up here to VA and help me out? Of course, the climate isn't as 'nice' as yours, but your suggestions would be priceless! I need to take some 'real' photos of my backyard. It isn't all a pretty picture (so far I have shown the nice part).
You've lifted my spirits today by sharing this heart-warming experience. I'm so glad you guys were ok, despite the hardship it caused. The old saying that some good often comes from the bad things...is true, isn't it!

Gail said...

What an absolutely marvelous story...Gardeners are the best kind of people generous and giving. But then so are you two! You are generous and supportive to the blogging community. It has been a joy getting to know you and your beautiful garden. Gail

Cindy, My Corner of Katy said...

Randy and Jamie, I had no idea what y'all had gone through and it is indeed a gripping story. I'm so glad you were able to work through the heartache and grief of such a huge loss. The beauty of your gardens today are a testament to you both, as well as to the friendship and generosity of fellow gardeners.

KC MO Garden Guy said...

Reading your story brought a tear to my eyes. I had just started reading your blog when the tornado hit your neighborhood. I can't imagine something like that happening. The emotional toll would be too much plus having all that work destroyed.
You both have done a wonderful job with your garden. You all should be very proud of all the hard work you have put into your garden.

Anonymous said...

OH my word! That truly is amazing how much work you two accomplished. Bravo and my heart goes out to you for your loss. It looks incredible.

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful story of how other generous souls not only gave you the means but the inspiration to rebuild your garden. And it is very beautiful. Congrats on your one year anniversary of this blog.

Phillip said...

I can't believe it has been one year! And didn't you have stormy weather again today? I was thinking of y'all when I heard them mention it on the weather today.

Jamie and Randy said...

It would never have happened were it not for the kindness of strangers. Would you believe that the tornado sirens are actually going off as I type this? It’s supposed to be six miles north of us thank goodness. Still, not a pretty sound to hear…

We would be glad to come help you! LOL We work for food, but I have to warn you Jamie is still growing and he will eat you out of house and home!

It’s been wonderful getting to know you and everyone else we’ve met thru blogging. Isn’t it odd how familiar people become even though you may never meet them.

We are so glad you joined us. :0) I hope our garden continues to evolve, it’s most definitely still in the infant stage.

It’s always good to hear from you! BTW I could have sent you all the worms you needed, we seem to have tons of them now. Though, the Robins would be disappointed this summer.

I ain’t gonna lie about it girl, I’m proud of what we got done too. It didn’t really sink in on me just what we had accomplished until about July of this past year. I just walked out one day, stopped dead in my tracks and said “wow…”

There are still some good people out there and our garden is a testament to it. But, honestly, I never met a gardener I didn’t like. :0)

Chandramouli S said...

Here's something thing for you, b'day boy!

Annie in Austin said...

What a wonderful post, Randy & Jamie. Most bloggers celebrate their blogiversary, but you guys can celebrate a Garden-rebirth-day instead.

If I remember it right, Phillip told his readers about what happened and sent us here. So glad he did!

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Jamie and Randy said...

You are absolutely right, Phillip sure did do a post. A very nice one that led several new friends to us. The idea of a garden rebirthday sounds nice. Instead of the date of the storm though, I think I'll find out the date I planted that redbud! It should be recorded on the photo... Good thinking!--Randy

Jan said...

You guys have done an amazing job in just one year, and I am so glad that you jumped right in and rebuilt. In doing that, I think there was a lot of garden therapy to help get over such a traumatic event. I remember how discouraged you felt at the time. Even though it was hard work, you seemed to have come out the better for it. Congratulations!

Always Growing

Northern Shade said...

That's an amazing transformation, to recover from such devastation. It looks like such an inviting garden already. It must be wonderful to sit out and relax, enjoying the beauty, but also to feel a connection to all those other gardens and gardeners.

Wicked Gardener said...

Wow! I knew about the tornado, but had now idea that your blog friends ended up keeping it going - how amazing! (I for one am looking forward to how the future years turn out!

Connie said...

What an amazing transformation...and such a creatively designed garden!

Monica the Garden Faerie said...

Wow--what a terrible thing to have happen, but what a gorgeous garden you have now. It really is a an Eden! Two quotes inside Dove Promises chocolates, which I've been saving for myself, seem appropriate for this post, too:
"One's best success comes after ones greatest disappointments."
"In chaos there lies opportunity."

Kylee said...

What a heartwarming story! I'm so glad this turned out to be the way it did. Amazing, the work and heart that have gone into your Eden. You must feel wonderful to be surrounded by so much love when you walk among the plants in your garden. Your garden is beautiful, and the story behind it is, too.

Jamie and Randy said...

NS, WG, Connie, Monica, Kylee-
Glad you could all join us! :-) Sorry I'm just now getting back to your comments, but Jamie and I have both been fighting the crud. Kylee, I'm glad you enjoyed the Orchids.:-) Jamie has just about completely recovered from his wreck. Thank you so much for asking.--Randy

Sarah Laurence said...

What a scary story about the tornado! The images say it all. I love how you and your gardening friends turned tragedy into a garden. The new garden is just lovely and must be a welcome gift to your neighborhood too. Thanks for sharing!

Darla said...

What an amazing story here. I have found the most generous, honest and loving people garden. I wonder why? Probably because they too are hardworkers. Your yard is lovely. So glad you decided to replant!!

Cosmo said...

Hi, Randy--I love the story of your Eden, even though it begins with such a devastation. You and Jamie are an inspiration to gardeners everywhere (I need to look at this posting when I'm feeling lazy or frustrated). I'm glad Jamie wasn't hurt badly (you should add a pic of the new car when you post again), and I hope you're both feeling better.

The pictures from the Botanical Gardens were amazing--the orchids are incredible!

Jamie and Randy said...

It takes a special soul to be a gardener. I think we have larger appreciation of the Great I Am, which in my opinion is nothing but the purest form of love. When your spirit is touched by it, even for just a little bit, it becomes part of you and you it.You can't help but be a better person as a result.

The entire experience transformed me and Jamie and our relationship. It really cemented our commitment to each other.

Jamie was fortunate enought to find a 2007 Dodge Caliber with only 7000 miles on it. It's a cream puff and his payments are only $183.00 a month! It was a repo that got lost in inventory and we reaped the benefits of it. He's got a three year old car that is practically brand new. LOL

Oh! We are both feeling muuuuuuch better, thank you for asking!

Meems said...

I am new to your blog and had no idea. Okay... this is why I told myself NOT TO WHINE about a little (in comparison) frost damage. and I promise not to whine one more mili-second. Life is too short and precious for whining. Hold me to it... really.:-) Wonderful community the world of gardeners is ... you are blessed! AND your garden is lovely.
Meems @ Hoe and Shovel

Skeeter said...

What a wonderful story! I think that blogging is a wonderful thing as it has opened up lots of eyes for many people that once had them closed to new things. Such as me, I never dreamed I would be adding the things I have added the past year and all enthusiastically due to Garden chat with others on Blogs!

Congrats on your one year Blog and all the new friends you have made along the way! I always say that things happen for a reason and that tornado sure did turn things around for you two! Happy Gardening!

tina said...

Brings tears to my eyes too. What a lovely recovery and tribute to life in general. That tornado really really did do a job on your garden! You guys are outstanding to still persevere and bring it back to its former glory and then some. Yes, I usually do sign my seed packets just so folks know where to go if they have questions on the seeds. I'd like to think I am a bitty part of your lovely garden, a gardeners dream everywhere. I do send seeds and give them away a lot. Thanks for a super fantastic post and Happy Blogiversary! The video was so nice as was the song. P.S. I saw your garden gate/arbor in Tennessee Gardener last month or the month before. Not sure when but it was nice. Of course I had already seen it on the blog too. It was great it could be shared with others and the article was a good one. You guys take care and here's to many more years of blogging.

Jamie and Randy said...

Hey Tina,
You are the first to mention the article. Thanks! It was my first article and it made it to all the State By State magazines. I was very excited.:-) I hope to be submitting more articles in the future. That was the February edition of the magazines. Thank you so much for well wishes!--Randy

Jean said...

What a powerful story. Thank you for sharing it. Gardeners are truly amazing people and it's so heartening to hear how you've rebuilt with their virtual help.

I enjoyed your blog and all the bird photos. I love the new posts you put in for your climbing roses. It should look stunning.

CiNdEe said...

Wow what a heartwarming story. It is so wonderful everyone helped you out and you were able to rebuild your garden. I can't imagine going through what you did with a tornado. That must have been so scary and devastating. I am glad you didn't give up!!! Your garden is just beautiful!!!
CiNdEeS' GaRdEn

Nan Ondra said...

I'm so glad that you shared this link for the Garden Bloggers' Design Workshop, Randy. All I can do is echo the comments of your previous visitors. It's an incredibly moving story that our Gardening Gone Wild readers will appreciate too.

the inadvertent farmer said...

What an awesome story...I'm so glad you decided to remake you garden...is it stunning! Kim

Jamie and Randy said...

Thanks for paying us a visit! Do you have a Camel!!!!!!!!--Randy

Deviant Deziner, aka Michelle said...

Wow, what a heart wrenching story with a beautiful ending, or should I say beginning.

A truly wonderful transformation,- on so many different levels.


Jamie and Randy said...

I'm so happy your paid us a visit. I enjoy your blog so much! All the designs you show keep my mind spiining with new ideas!--Randy

Anonymous said...

Your story of triumph over adverse circumstances inspired by fellow gardeners and their support is unforgettable. Congratulations on a job well done in the new garden.

Jamie and Randy said...

Thank you so much! It just takes a little hard work and some determination!--Randy