I sit, clutching my insulated mug of coffee, staring around the wilderness romping out of control. Our fleeting spring having succumbed to wintry winds again, I shiver despite the jacket.I designed a wild garden, I like a wild garden. Wild life would thrive under my lazy gardening stewardship. Such ‘good’ intentions made over ten years ago as I had contemplated the building site I had inherited. Ten years at this end of life can be the same as twenty at the middle of life’s span.
I have struggled to keep even a steadying hand on the frolicking life outside the windows., but largely succeeded. I enjoyed the effort at the start, was proud of turning the rubble strewn disaster into a sunny/shady ecological place. A garden which suited wheel chairs, canes, failing eyesight and faltering steps yet ticked eco-friendly boxes. All my work payed off, as did the extra ‘ I can’t manage’ work my friends put in for me. I had a run of health problems which put me a little behind, but every spring I made up for neglect in the autumn/winter. Still a wild garden.
Last year I had heart failure and ventured forth maybe a couple of times to rest exhausted on a bench. Nothing was weeded, pruned, tidied; nothing new planted, no cuttings taken. Woodwork was not painted, nor drains/gutters cleared. Nothing was done. It didn’t matter about no watering as it didn't stop raining for 7 months anyway.
Of course there are many plants that thrive in gloomy rain swept gardens and others who still put a decent show despite lack of sun. Plants that do not need ordering, that thrive on neglect. They romp away with abandon, usually where not wanted.Some forms of wildlife love the rain - they tend to be of the slug/snail variety.
The last time I had gardened had been April 2012. A year later I have ventured out armed with broom and spade. When I had first created the garden a neighbour let me have all his leaves, from a well established garden, 40+ sackfuls each year, because I had none. Trees take time to grow. Last year my trees obviously had come of age and this year the untidy remnants of those leaves made every path and dank corner a slimy hazard. First task in restoring order, get those leaves on the soil where at least they would be of benefit.
Then I could contemplate the rest. So many tasks needed. Pruning, weeding, replanting, the list grew day by day. Even if my health had recovered which it hasn’t, even if I was ten years younger which I never will be, it is obvious to me the clear up won’t be achieved this year. So what is the absolute necessity? I wonder as I sit clutching my coffee.
Fortunately I had foreseen that sometime in the future I would have to have an easier garden, so much is in place,(no bedding all is shrubs and trees, the vegetable patch reduced in favour of fruit) but I was brought down a little sooner than I had hoped. Ah well thats life for you - loves the unexpected.
I wanted ‘wild’, I have ‘wilderness’, why complain? Paths must be kept weed free for older feet. Bushes and trees kept away from faces, but really what excuse to moan about ‘wild flowers’ in beds not planted with veg yet, they are pretty and the early bees, themselves trying for recovery after last years rainfall, are appreciating them. The snails? well birds need to feed.
I have turned away at least half a dozen men who wish to ‘clean’ my drive with their high powered water toys - I tell them the ‘weeds’ in the paviours are my wildflower meadow, I tell them their hoses may well wash away dirt but will also wash away tiny life forms between the cracks. I fear my reputation is destroyed - ‘that mental case at the end of the road’ is how they mutter I guess.I have cleared the garden seats, have views of greenness and splashes of colour. While I sit with coffee I realise some new plant has taken up residence here, the new fragrance is wonderful, I wonder where/how it arrived here. Welcome it. Haven’t a clue what it’s name is but who really cares with a scent like that.
Because I am under orders to exercise gently, as much as possible and my garden is far more interesting than the empty streets I will continue to titivate through the year. Maybe I will find more squatters, maybe I will oust them or welcome them. Maybe the garden will stop its excitement and calm down. Maybe I will just sit, read and enjoy the birdsong in the wilderness and think about ‘wild’ for next year.I love my garden but. . .