Gardening was one of the biggest passions of our lives for the last seven years that we lived in America, and had a half acre garden, this . We planted thousands of bulbs (literally), a dozen fruit trees, dozens of hellebores, shade-loving plants, perennials. I used to know a lot about all sorts of plants, and hopefully still do.
And when we moved to England after 17 years in America, one of the top things in my wish list was a big garden. I was praying for an acre. We landed up buying a house with an acre and a half of garden. Though the house was charming
it was the limitless potential of the garden which got me
See what I mean?
I more or less decided to buy the house before we entered it. The salesman never had an easier sale.
However, an acre and a half has proved to be a lot more work than half an acre. Duh! And it has proved overwhelming to us, and it makes us sad that we’re always so behind, because we love beauty, we love gardening, we love plants, we love watching things grow, we love being out of doors, and we love the sound of the birds.
And because it was rapidly became overwhelming, I found myself going out to garden less and less often while it became like Sleeping Beauty’s forest.
For instance, I went out to garden this Sunday, after um… um…. more months than I care to remember.
* * *
In America, the garden was our family’s life. We would go out there as soon as the children came home from school and often spend three or even four hours there. There were dozens of little flower beds, we had a pond, fruit trees, swings, slides, a tree house, a rope ladder, a sand pit, a climbing frame, a fountain, bird houses and feeders, hummingbird feeders, a hammock, an outdoor wendy house, lots of stuff for the girls and their friends to amuse themselves with. Smiling sun shaped bird houses, little terra cotta animals, wind chimes. It was magical. I would lose track of time, pray, forget my sorrows, such as they were.
Now, when I go out, there are so many things I am behind with, so many Honey Do’s for Roy who is stronger and fitter, but who doesn’t like “being bossed,” that it all gets rather stressful. So, over the last five years we’ve gardened in fits and starts which isn’t the way to garden, or do anything else.
* * *
But this time, I am going to persevere with gardening. I am making a little trail for myself, going from bed to bed, weeding, pruning… I don’t get the bed perfect, just a whole lot better, and then, next day, have another savage bash at it. Am getting to more beds each day.
“Little and often” is the best gardening motto that I have heard.
* * *
If there is a fountain of youth, I wonder if it is gardening? It keeps you supple, slightly stronger, and it is great for mental health to rest the mind, breathe fresh air, and listen to the birds. To bend double to the ground. To notice the rhythms of the earth.
I wonder why people stop gardening as they age. Maybe, they never get themselves out after a savage winter. After all, I went out for the first time on March 6th. Maybe, they are uncertain on their feet after a fall.
I had a traumatic fall in Costa Rica in 2003, which was misdiagnosed there as a break. The doctor didn’t speak English, nor I Spanish. My leg was in a cast, and I flew back early to the States in a wheelchair. Once I got to see a doctor–the fall was on Christmas Eve– it turned out that it was a savage sprain, not a break, and putting it in a cast was the very worst thing to do.
The ankle is still weak, and I have never been quite as confident hiking up mountains with the kids, or on icy roads or slushy paths. That’s how aging works. And I am still in my forties!!
Psalm 18:36 “You broaden the path beneath me, so that my ankles do not turn.” I pray this heart-feltly whenever I come across it. I have never broken a bone, and pray never to. I also pray never to sprain my ankle again, since my recovery was so slow and imperfect.
On the other hand, there are uses to walking with a limp. Ask Jacob!