Saturday 14 June 2014

On not-gardening

I’m in awe of you gardeners, I really am.  Never more so than in summer. I love the concept of gardening, I love the end results, and your spaces are so very beautiful.  But, you know what?  I’ve finally accepted that I'm just too damn lazy to be a gardener.

My garden has gone wild and I have decided that, rather than fight it, I’ll choose to like it that way.  For almost my entire adult life I have molested gardens, fighting and flailing in an attempt to keep them neat, tidy, under control.  But just like children who can spot a weakness a mile off, they seem to divine that my heart isn't in it and they fight back, tooth and nail, or rather thorn and spike.   So this is the year of 'fuck it gardening', or rather non-gardening.  I have realised that although I like being in gardens, I simply don’t enjoy the act of gardening. I'm a passive garden user rather than an active garden creator.  
Okay, so back in the day when I had a gardener, I quite liked choosing plants and deciding where to put them (or rather where they should be put) but that was about it.  Now I can’t afford either the gardener or the plants, I have realised it doesn’t matter that much.  The plants still come – it’s just I don’t get to choose which ones and where.  I have learned to, if not love, then tolerate weeds (what is a weed, after all, but a plant in the wrong place?).  Okay, so the ground elder still bugs me a bit but, hey, it’s won, I’ve lost – I'm nothing if not gracious in defeat.  The brambles are pushy to the point of rude but hey ho nonny no, free food come autumn!  Yes, it's sad that some delicate souls get crowded out but then, that’s Darwinian life – survival of the fittest and all.  But there are surprises like the irises that appeared in the erstwhile pond and the tiny wild alpine strawberries that taste like vanilla and bubble gum. 
Now, let’s be clear, it’s not a total unadulterated wilderness.  Adrian does mow the lawn (borrowing a lawn-mower; ours broke years ago) but carefully, avoiding the edges because the slow worms like it there, in the cool of the stone walls.  And I don’t clear the undergrowth because the hedgehog needs some respite from pesky dogs.  Yup, a wild garden calls in the beasts and birds and bugs, that's for sure.  The place is buzzing with them.  The grass snake is elusive – but I hope s/he is still out there somewhere.  

From a distance (and bear in mind I’m short-sighted) it all looks tickety-boo.

Every once in a while I’ll realise it’s got a bit too far out of control.  Usually when I can’t see out the windows or when getting to the back gate is like wrestling through the enchanted forest to Sleeping Beauty’s snoozing spot.  So then I’ll haul out the shears and secateurs and go a bit bonkers (and end up covered in slashes and scratches).  But not too much because I have always loved the secrecy of paths, and the sanctity of entrances, the liminality of certain spaces. 
And, don’t get me wrong, I do the occasional bit of gentle maintenance – well, I dead head the roses and scatter the petals like confetti.  Or I move benches around and re-arrange cushions. 
But really, when the sun is out, on these oh so rare beautiful summer days,  I just can’t be doing with the fussing and finnicketing.  I prefer to stretch out with the SP on a rug on the grass, or curl up in a chair on the terrace - either with my nose in a book, or just snoozing or musing, drifting and dreaming.  Glass of very chilled rose optional but welcome.  J

Of course, having said all this, I know so many of my dear friends and readers are avid tenders of the soil, careful custodians of plant, bush and tree.  It would be lovely to share your blogs and pictures so do please leave any links in the comments. 


Elaine Denning said...

I think I could be your very best friend!

Anne said...

Sounds wonderful, especially the little wild strawberries.
What will you get from the brambles, come fall? More berries of some sort? (Sorry, this reader on the other side of the pond is clueless.)
And--hedgehogs! Yay! Take a picture and post it some time?

Unknown said...

I know exactly what you mean, Jane! In my case, it's part laziness and part "oh shit, it's all too much, the buttercups have taken over, can nettles GROW that tall, what happened to that lavender I planted in that spot, help, help, panic, panic". I think it's age. I don't have a gardener - I'd LIKE one. It's all I can do to run around behind my antiquated mower and keep the grass down, another thing that grows like wildfire in our wet wet wet cimate. I'm just in from doing that, I feel exhausted, sticky, stinky and in serious need of alcohol. x

Dump Him Love said...

I think my default position with gardening is the desire for it to be gorgeously cultivated and not wanting and not enjoying the effort it takes to create and maintain it. At the moment my OH deals with it but if left to my own devices I know it would run wild ;)

Ashen said...

Am with you. My last post is about my garden, in a way :)

Frances said...

Jane, you write so well that you have almost, almost convinced me that my yearning for a gardening, longing for the weeding, the thinking about what to encourage, what to cut back, what flowers or even...veg to add, might be unwise.

I'm holding on to my country dreams. Not much gardening advancement available on my apartment windowsills. And yet, even here, I persevere.


Exmoorjane said...

@Elaine - hurrah!

@Anne - the little wild strawberries are heavenly...tiny bursts of flavour on the tongue. Yes, the brambles will bring forth a huge harvest of blackberries. I also have wild raspberries. Yummy.
The hedgehog only comes out at night, and my photography skills are pitiful at the best of lights. But I'll try. :)

Exmoorjane said...

@Helen - HELEN!!!! Oh my! You actually commented on my blog. I am so honoured. And yeah, how CAN nettles grow that tall? :) xxx

@Barbara - Yup. Exactly. :)

@Ashen - *scurries off to read post* :)

@Frances - Nooo. Some people are life's gardeners, tenders, carers...I'm just not one of them. But I look on their works - Milla, Zoe, Elizabeth spring to mind immediately - and smile. A small garden is the key - with raised beds maybe? Or a gardener. :)