Natural gardener

It’s taken me so long to shoot this roll of film that, a month ago in April, the grass was lush with new spring growth and now it’s parched and yellowing. I was going to tell you that I’m not much of a gardener, but then it struck me that right now I’m not much of a photographer. In any case, neither is quite true – just life got in the way.

So though I think of myself as not a natural gardener, here’s the truth:

I once rescued an inner city garden that had turned into a jungle over the years. I cleared ground, planted seeds, grew ruby chard and marigolds. I dug a pond, make compost, cared for a lawn.

I once rescued a city allotment that had turned into a jungle. I smothered Japanese knotweed, dug out dandelions and docks, planted potatoes, broad beans, spinach and yes, ruby chard and marigolds. I hoed and weeded, fed and mulched. But I never tasted one potato, never dug any of that spinach from between my teeth, never had so much as a bean for all my labours. To keep the peace in a break up, I let my ex taste the fruits of our hours of labour.

And though I was happy to do that, somewhere in the parting I lost my taste for gardening.

I left that garden with the pond and the ruby chard and bought a house on my own. I let the garden go its own way. It never got the the jungle stage but the herb plants I half-heartedly planted got strangled by bindweed. The Russian vine flourished while the wisteria slowly faded away. Dandelions moved in muscling out the grass on my tiny patch of lawn.

I didn’t fight the forces of nature, instead I learnt to enjoy it at night, lying on my back on the straggling lawn, watching bats circle overhead as night fell.

But now in our new house with its garden that doesn’t need rescuing, just some love and attention, I am full of plans again. I’m planting summer bulbs, sowing courgettes, tending to tomatoes. I have pots of herbs outside the door. Strawberries are in flower and there are signs of fruit. Ron has built me a compost bin – and soon an unused corner will be transformed into raised beds. I am weeding and planting and tending it all. And though the harvest this year won’t be plentiful – there have been so many other things to do – I intend to taste the fruits of this year’s harvest.


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