Officially spring is just around the corner. In reality we have gales, biting winds and snow falling. The skies are iron clad and full of foreboding and the heating is turned up again. So in search of sunshine I turned to my garden.
There is a beauty in the dead stems and sculpted shapes of winter that I love, but in these dark days, before the wheel of the year turns once more, I turned instead to the light of spring and warmed myself in the blaze of summers past. So I thought I’d invite you into my garden for a little while.
My garden is tiny, just a few feet in front of the house and a small patch out back. I have never had the money to spend on exotic plants, but that has never mattered. I love those wayward wildflowers otherwise known as weeds and encourage many of them for their beauty and because they attract all manner of creatures.
Many of the plants in my garden tell a story. Some speak of years gone by when I first began to learn the ways of herbs for healing. That began with my father’s racing pigeons and gradually moved to many other things, from health to cooking. No matter how small the space, I have grown herbs.
Some of the plants are memories. The lily of the valley take me back to my great grandmother’s garden and the scented carpet of them beneath the beautiful, velvet red rose. Some of these flowers have passed through generations and are the descendants of plants in family gardens for many years.
The roses under the window were a gift from a much-loved couple. Going through a very difficult period, I joked one day that no one ever sent me flowers and that if they did they needed roots on them… and a few days later boxes of roses bushes arrived. Their beauty a reminder, every year, of what love and friendship really mean.
With the sun come the creatures. I love going out in the early morning with the camera, watching the garden wake up and buzz into life. You can feel the sap rising and the earth waking beneath your feet. Iridescent beetles and gaudy ladybirds, butterflies, birds and bees are everywhere and I love that time of day.
The bees fascinate me. They are such busy, impossible creatures. the aerodynamics seem all wrong for the weighty sacks they carry and their little furry bodies demand to be stroked. There are so many different types too.. though we tend to call them all bumblebees. Some nest in the quiet patch beyond the strawberries, burrowing underground. Some are just passing through. I love them all. A garden without insects would be a poor place.
I don’t use pesticides at all. If I have greenfly I’d rather the ants and ladybirds deal with them. I get a lot of ants, and they too are fascinating, with their factory-farmed eggs and the exquisite dance of cooperation. Though I’d rather they stayed off the peony buds, I must admit.
Still, they have homes to build and mouths to feed the same as the rest of us, so I shouldn’t complain. In return, they keep the aphids under control. Though I could do with something to keep the birds off my strawberries… and the dog. She just thinks I am growing little edible balls for her, I think.
I don’t know of a better way to connect with this earth upon which we live, breathe and have our being than to stand barefoot on the grass, with the dew bathing your feet in a garden that you know intimately and tend every day. From seed to flower, to fruit and back to seed the cycle of life plays out before you, intimately and with beauty as the seasons turn. Other lives run through it, gracing yours with their own gifts for a little while. No matter how calm and peaceful they may seem on the surface, life is burgeoning, buzzing and humming all around. A garden is a little bit of heaven in your care.