So now, after years of gardens I had one of my own. My planning (well, that had been the idea, it wasn’t of course:), my choice of plants (well not entirely, of course:) to do with what I liked (that was mostly correct). All the time the new abode took to be planned and built I had time to decide what I wanted from the garden.
Wildlife was top priority, so a lot of research and consideration went into choosing plants to suit the widest range possible.
After dealing with pollen, berries, shelter, nesting considerations and food, I then considered.
Land, air and water habitats.
Fragrance not just for wildlife but for the humans sharing the space.
I found I wasn’t after all wanting just ascetic delights; I had formed a liking for plants over the years because of the endless possibilities of use they had. From the games of my youth, fed by books, I knew that they could feed, cloth,, could produce baskets,blankets and help to defend you. When I grew older and travelled, researched and experimented I found more and more just what a wonderful world this world of plants was.
I had left it rather late to begin this new thought. Joints and health were flailing around and I had to content myself only a few more experiments.
When we moved in - I had the vegetables being grown and excesses dried for winter, fruit being turned into jam, jelly and chutney, trees to provide the firewood. Plants to dye cloth, compost heaps to take our waste. It was satisfactory and I incorporated these and many other useful skills into my novels. If I couldn’t make the baskets anymore my characters could:)
The vegetables are gone now as I can no longer manage the watering cans and hoses now. Wrists object badly! The fruit is being shared with the birds. I reckon I will probably get a couple more years of sawing my own firewood before I will either, have to let the trees do there own thing, or hire help.
The wildlife have it for themselves now and I enjoy them as much as I always have. They were at the end of the day my first priority:)
The plants are still there and so I can, if I want, still dye my own yarns. I discovered this new skill after I moved here. Making mistakes as I went along. I remember the first time I decided to use buttercup flowers. It had been a very hot day when I spent a couple of hours collecting all the garden possessed. I ‘cooked’ them, extracted their dye.
Then I very carefully poured the liquid down the drain!!!!
You may well ask.
Beats me. Brain got the message wrong!:)
Well that was it until the buttercups bloomed again. I never made that mistake again. From then on I successfully extracted dye from many so called ‘weeds’ in my space outdoors.
I decided what I wanted was a jacket. Turning some unbleached wool into hanks of yarn I dipped and dyed each hank into large saucepan on the hob. Rinsing, redyeing . I dyed in yellow, in brown, a touch of orange or red, a dash of green. I had hours of fascinating fun. Turning cream coloured yarn into a dazzling array of autumnal hues. While they hung drying by the heat of the sun, on a clothes horse in the conservatory, I had pleasure in imagining my new jacket of many colours. My wrists had given up on crocheting such a large project so my sister offered to knit it up for me. It looked great.
I wore it for a bit as a cardigan but what I really wanted was a jacket. So I felted it. Marvellous, warm, weatherproof and every shade of my favourite season.
If I had known when a child how to make rope from plants in the garden I would have done, now I don't need rope so have not tried.But to be able to cloth oneself from the garden seems to me a useful thing. It takes a long smelly time to turn nettles into linen-like material, but one can. Having turned the fleece from an animal into a yarn and then decorated that yarn into colour, from the garden, is immensely satisfying.
I have always, from very young, been most interested in threads, yarn and fibre and now at this end I learnt how it could all be done. As I say a little late in my day but I take heart that so many of us soft ‘westerners’ are rediscovering these old crafts. Many of course never wandered away from them, the new converts are young enough to enjoy a lifetime of them.