Part One: The Dream
I have been harvesting my garden these last few weeks and enjoying my jungle – for it is a jungle this time of year. I abandoned any pretence of catching up and being on top of things weeks ago! Now I plunder – dodging the rain showers.
I got to thinking, while out collecting the last of the currants, how it all had been just a few years ago. I was driven to rifle through old photos to find the evidence of the plain bareness of the first garden I had ever been able to call my own.
There have always been gardens in my life: my parents had them everywhere they lived, I shared others while I wandered the world, even on occasion took on gardening jobs to pay the bills. I read gardening books and planned in the recesses of my mind ‘my perfect garden’. It went something like this
Large, rambling with narrow grassy paths which wound their ways around strategic shrubs and show plants. Large boulder-strewn rockeries complete with ‘natural’ waterfalls! So many trees I could claim ‘wood’ status.
Get the picture – a mixture of Victorian and Gothic it would be over-bloomed and decadent, a garden tempting one further into its mysterious depths. Climbers, hangers-on, lush and seductive – hidden nooks and crannies, where an icy glass of wine could be sipped from crystal glass. Water trickling from ancient fountains and bubbling from silent green pools, moss and lichen and the gentle drone of nectar-heavy bees.
Yes, well I write fiction what do you expect?
not like this oh no no no!
One day, I would dream, I would have such a place to call my own. Yes, well we all know what happens in real life.
I grew older and my ideas changed, then I wanted a garden that would sustain and be nature-friendly. Still the aromatic plants could remain but gone would be the blousy roses, in would come the sweet briars. Gone the show plants, instead natural, local, insect-friendly ones – still as eye-catching but now purposeful. I dreamt of acres of walled productivity and harvesting, possibly with an old fashioned trug on my arm, of careless plucking of a fruit here, a fruit there, in the hazy sunshine.
Starting the day with freshly ground coffee in a courtyard heavy with scent, early insect life and the sweet melodies of bird song.
I grew older still. I had ideals; my garden would be an eco garden. I investigated permaculture and organics, the one offered my parsimonious soul a perfect series of ‘it’s a bargain’ moments and the others fulfilled my desire to start reducing the damage I was causing to all and sundry.
Still I had no garden of my own; and then one day I did. Life runs to its own agenda and now produced practicalities I had never imagined in my youth.
My first garden was the remains of a new build; for those who have gone that route you will know this means a building site full of rubble and rubbish. It was shallow, ranging from 10ft to 30ft; 120ft wide stretch of land, far too large for me now in my increasing old age. What it wasn’t was the lush acres of childhood dreams. It was also not strictly speaking mine and mine alone, however I was the only one it was true who would garden it. My mother, elderly and already frail from the condition that would increasingly bring her down who had owned more gardens than I could count and who was a lady of strong opinions, and my sister, who has sight and hearing problems, would also inhabit this virgin land. Could I have cut them out, would I have wanted to?
Where to start?
We settled down to decide how this garden could be planned for all three of us, the guide dog and a couple of cats. Took us a while!