Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Getting grubby

I'm quietly getting into gardening. In the past, I've been chief weeder, seed scatterer, amphibian relocater and photographer. The garden is still very much Mr M's domain but I'm starting to make my mark.

Last year I moved hundreds of snowdrops from the front garden to under the apple trees at the back. This year I've sown salad, poppy, sweetpeas, scabiosa and a host of other seeds - some of which are doing better than others. I've planted an Italian yellow miniature squash plant and it's been popped against a sunny wall - I'm hoping we can make it climb like the incredible vegetable gardens we spied in the tiny villages in Italy. I potted up an alium earlier that my father saved from one of his gardening jobs - the flower heads are rather spindly, so I've improvised with a very rustic support. I'm still a bit rubbish on the watering front, but I have been left in charge of fleecing the seedlings if frost is forecast.

Part of the draw is that our garden is now so much more manageable than our last. I do miss the expanse of our old garden - I find a wide ranging aspect incredibly freeing, and grounding, but I don't miss the long hours that we used to put in nor the back breaking raking that only ever stopped for two months of the year nor the shade and lack of flowers.

For many, gardening heals. I find the timelessness of gardening cathartic. When I'm outside, I rarely look at my watch. My blackberry and mobile are tucked away inside the house. The only technology I might reach for is my camera to document something peculiar or beautiful or both. I was fortunate enough to attend the Gardening Against the Odds award ceremony - the initiative set up in memory of Elspeth Thompson. I met so many incredible people making a difference - those whose lives have been changed through nature, be it autism, depression, to challenge society or bring joy to areas where nature is lacking. There were many lump in the throat moments, but the enthusiasm and passion is inspiring.

Gardening seems to be a hot topic right now - whether it's The Great Allotment Challenge, Fern Britton's interview about gardening and her depression, the brilliant garden series on BBC4 at Great Dixter, Sissinghurst and Nymans, or the regular Gardeners' World with Nigel and his ball and Gardeners' Question Time.

Now that we have a sunny aspect - pretty much anything grows and flowers, and often comes again. The garden is alive with birds and bees and slugs and snails. And I suppose it's only now, with our new aspect, that I finally understand the joy of watching something grow from seed to bloom. I find it calming. And it's the perfect excuse to spend time outside. Plus if I want a vast view, then I just need to hop in the car to Wisley or Painshill Park.

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