I left my garden playgrounds for the great wide world, first to college and then to earn some pennies for my next great adventure – to travel the world. Well I may not have managed to see the whole world but I wandered through and around all the continents before I finished and came back home a couple of decades later.
I still wasn’t a gardener mind, although I had absorbed some knowledge of the plant world through osmosis:)
I ‘did’ the normal visits to stately gardens, formal gardens, vineyards and the like. They were interesting, but not for me. I became a little more interested when seeing how some cultures gardened in their forests. It is much more the style now in this country to forest garden but I had never come across this concept before. By gardening I am of course talking about harvestable crops within forests clearings and using the trees themselves. I understood this after all I had grown up with fruit trees, they were spaced and isolated for sure, but gardening had never been all about flowers in our household.
I settled for a few years in Australia and wandered around but didn’t pick up any particular ideas for the garden. In the USA I fell for decking – which is scorned now after being in fashion a few years ago. I never did have decking because of the dangers of slipping when feet and sight are not nimble! but I still like the look of it. I wasn’t, to be fair, looking at gardens per se , I was watching wildlife which had always been my thing. Discovering all the familiar, from home, attired in gaudier grander, splendour. Discovering the new.
Bigger, brighter, more colourful (who would have thought frogs came in such an array of hues) and more vicious. Everything was out to bite, sting or eat me, well so it appeared. Out was picking up caterpillars, centipedes and spiders on a whim. Out was sitting on a log without inspection. Life was certainly exciting out there in the world!
It was on my journeys hither and thither that I came up with a plan on how to occupy myself when I went home for good. I had enjoyed the freedom from work schedules so much I thought I would work from home and be independent of bosses. It wasn’t a plan that lasted long as I returned a couple of years before a recession, and the silk clothes I hand embroidered for sale became non affordable luxuries to most people, but part of that plan involved growing my own herbs and fragrant plants for aromatherapy and pot pourri.
I could do that, I decided.
How hard can it be to throw some seed on a plot of earth and chuck some water over it? Foolish youngster,
Well maybe no longer a youngster.
What I probably needed was a selection of about six seed packets. What I ended up with were dozens of them. As I wandered through the catalogue lists, saw the pictures, remembered my travels I was tempted beyond resistance.
When it was growing warmer I ventured out to make myself a gigantic propagator. I had read how to do it, and this time, unlike the bow and arrow, I was determined to achieve it.
Such a splendid propagator.
Within months of the warmer weather arriving I felt like a gardener, it was a revelation. It is a whole new personae wrapped around a person.
I thought, I planned, I dreamed.
I weeded, I dug, I planted, pruned and smiled.
I joined my mother in discussions of flowers, fruit and fragrance.
My plan to make smelly stuff lasted no time, I wanted more, I wanted everything. Normal, mundane, exciting, challenging, exotic and traditional. The entire plant world was open to my curiosity. Those formal gardens I had seen? well in small amounts I could manage them. Those forest gardens? yes well that would suit me – I actually had to wait until I had my own garden, Mum did not approve of that scheme!
Could I try cacti and other desert plants? How about a few gum trees or a wattle? Bright bold foreign flowers? heady sickly fragrant exotics?
I would try them all.
Many failed, as I slowly discovered, over the years that followed, what type of gardener I was at heart. What my views on gardens were. The cacti were the first, I didn’t get enough pleasure from them, I brought some to flower which was satisfying but the arid conditions of their growing did not appeal long term.
Plants from the hotter climes needed too much work to keep alive and left me the question - what was I trying to achieve, forcing life to flourish in the wrong part of the globe, was I a collector, a narcissist? They went, unless like the eucalyptus they could look after themselves over here.
That was the clue, despite the glories I had seen on my travels, what I wanted from a garden was one in which plants were comfortable and could, placed properly look after themselves. What I wanted was a garden where everything had a purpose, even if it was only to feed the hoverfly. I wanted to live my life away from the garden as well, so many other interests pulled me away, so constant attention was out. Watering and feeding every day was out. I disliked the snow, cold and rain, no fun in gardening then.
A fair weather gardener then:)