The Garden of Lost and Found

In the garden of lost and found, there's always a safe place for memories and heirlooms to linger for a while.

I think most gardens could qualify as the garden of lost and found. We’ve all certainly “lost” a few of our favorite plants. And some of us (okay, it’s me) go there to “find” our sanity after a long day.

Many gardens hold more than just the metaphysical. Real items end up in our gardens all the time. From old toys to seed packets to that coffee mug that got buried under the tomato leaves, the garden truly is a place of lost and found. I think my most famous find was a coin from the 1800s, but I’ve also seen stories about gardeners and farmers who have found dinosaur fossils and medieval armor in their gardens. Now THAT’s truly the garden of lost and found.

Sometimes, though, we find items more precious than those treasures of old. The emotional and sentimental value far outweighs any broader importance or monetary reward that might come with these items. That’s what happened to Johan Dahlberg in the story, My Grandmother’s Ring.

When Johan’s grandmother passed away, they realized they’d lost a very special ring that their grandmother had given them. As you can probably guess from the title, Johan did eventually find the ring, but what happened when they found it is so incredibly heart-warming. You won’t want to miss this story.

Enter the Garden of Lost and Found and Enjoy More Stories of Healing Gardens

This story comes from our archive that spans over 30 years, and includes more than 130 magazine issues of GreenPrints. Pieces like these that turn stories of healing gardens into everyday life lessons always brighten up my day, and I hope this story does for you as well. Enjoy!

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My Grandmother’s Ring

How I lost it—and found it.

By Johan Dahlberg

My grandmother used to love gardening. She lived alone in a rather small house here in Jorvas, Finland (“the cottage,” we used to call it), but had a fairly large garden which she nurtured almost like a much-loved child. She spent hours caring for it every day.

I used to visit her once a month to help out. As she grew older, she had trouble looking after the garden as well as she wanted to. She often told me how much she appreciated my help, even though I was only around ten at the time.

One day, before I returned home from one of my visits, my grandmother gave me an old gold ring. Apparently it had belonged to her mother, and she wanted to pass it on to me, her only grandchild, as a way of saying thank you for my help in the garden.

That was the last time I saw her.

Two days later, we received a phone call from Bill, a friendly old man who lived next door to my grandmother. He used to check on her a couple of times a week. He’d found her in bed, thinking she was asleep. It soon became evident to him that she wasn’t going to wake up. She had passed away.

That very same day, I realized that I had misplaced the ring she gave me. I wasn’t even sure if I had brought it home with me from the cottage. I searched both her house and ours, but I was never able to find it.

It’s been eight years since my grandmother’s death. My family inherited the little house with the garden, and we’ve used it as a summer cottage ever since. During these eight years, I’ve kept my grandmother’s garden intact. I knew how much she cared for it, and I wanted to keep a piece of her alive.

A few months ago, I was planting a new apple tree in my grandmother’s garden. I discovered something shiny while I was digging in the dirt: a tiny, rusted little metal box. I forced it open. Inside, I found what I had been missing all those years: the ring she’d given me. Along with the ring, there was a note: “You forgot this, dear. I’ll leave it here where I know you’ll find it.”

That was the best day of my life!

By Johan Dahlberg, published originally in 2015, in GreenPrints Issue #103. Illustrated by Selena Wong

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What is in the garden of lost and found in your yard? Have you found anything sentimental or unusual?


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