Some less-than-profound thoughts whilst gardening

Whilst busy studenting through term-time, the summer holidays has come as something of a shock. Especially when I stopped receiving financial support from the college, then my carefully arranged summer job got knobbled, topped by the council deciding that I wasn’t a full-time student in summer, so reinstating council tax. So I have gardened.

I am fortunate in that my Mother is a gardener by trade and that I pre-emptively set myself up as self-employed last year to try to earn a few pennies to keep life ticking over. So she’s managed to set me up with a few jobs where I can trundle along with her and trim, prune, weed, dig and water as directed.

As much as I am not one of nature’s little listeners (see yesterday’s post here) nor am I one of nature’s little gardeners, as many of my friends-and-relations will testify. Some have been horrified when, upon being given a nice bunch of flowers, I remove the cellophane, cut the ends off and pop them in a vase of water without even rearranging them! But surely the florist knows best, right?

When my Mother visits she surveys my little concrete garden with its few pots of scrubby shrubs with something akin to resignation, and makes a few half-hearted but well meant suggestions about what I should do to make it more like…well, a garden.

Still, I’m good enough at following directions and a hard enough worker to be worth taking along on her gardening jobs, and this morning I had a rather lovely experience. I was standing surveying the work we’d done and noting areas which needed still to be done (though our time was up, so another time) and I felt a strong sense of the timelessness of the garden before me.

It was a fairly standard garden, but lovely at the same time. There were softly curving clumps of lavendar bushes in the centre of the lawn, with stepping stone pathways winding around them. The borders were full of more lavender, heather and other pretty shrubby things. The grass had just been cut and in some places there was some longer (yet uncut) grass showing in gentle swathes along the sides of the garden. The sun was shining down warmly and the sky was blue, and I could just imagine that this garden would look perfect in the middle of some kind of heath or open space, with a view of rolling heather-covered hills and the smell of coconut from the gorse bushes dotted around. It was so peaceful and I really felt as though time had slowed down so that I could enjoy that moment.

It seemed to me as though even though this was now an inner-city garden, it had its roots in a different time, when things were simpler and more beautiful. The front door opened behind me and the elderly gentleman owner of the garden stepped out. He said he’d just wanted to come and say goodbye to me, and while he did so, I complimented him on the garden. His face lit up and he told me excitedly “Do you know, I recently came across a sketch of it I made when I was 12 – this garden’s hardly changed since the 1930’s”.

He nipped back inside and returned with the sketch. Pen on cardboard showing that indeed, it had hardly changed.


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