I am not a patient gardener although I think gardening can teach us patience. If things don’t happen quickly enough I tend to lose focus and get on with something else. It’s a trait I inherited from my mother for whom the rice could never cook quickly enough. My childhood was filled with the smell of burning rice while my mother wandered back to her studio.
After the initial excitement of seedlings comming up, appearing like magic through the soil and putting out their first leaves, now is the boring bit of waiting, waiting, waiting and in the mean time watering. It would be fine if we didn’t need to water and tend, if we could come back in 3 months and pick all the vegetables. Unfortunately most garden jobs and plants, require constance and I try to be the gardener they need. I still harbour a special affection for the plants that do it without me. The annuals that reseed themselves, the bulbs that come back every spring even though I’d forgotten they were there, I feel like those plants really get me.
Last Christmas I lifted and divided a clump of spider lily bulbs. Of course I accidentally stuck my fork through a couple so I decided to use them to propagate. Reading the instructions in my RHS guide it promised that
in a year I would have new little bulbs. And I thought ‘goodess a year is a long way off.’ SInce the bulbs were damaged there was nothing else i could do with them so I chopped them up and sealed them in a bag of vermiculite.
As the saying goes ‘don’t put off a goal because of the time it will take to complete it. The time will pass anyway’. And so it has.
Today I pulled out the bag and planted each little spider-lily plant with it’s own furry roots and smooth shoot. I have twenty plants in large yoghut pots and grow bags. No doubt it will be another year before they grow up and flower but the time will pass with or without my plants so I may as well use it.
This week we have had rain. Finally after a scorching heatwave it rained on Friday solidly all afternoon. Since I had put up my rainguage on Thursday evening (my colleagues think I’m nuts for my obsessive folowing of weather predictions) I was able to accurately measure 29 mm. On Saturday we got a follow up 6 mm. When I went out in the evening to check it I heard my neighbours automatic sprinkers going on. Technically they’re allowed since restictions only prohibit watering gardens between 6 am and 6 pm – what a bunch of slug buckets.
I came across a gardening journal I kept for a week in 2011 and it was facinating. I wish I’d kept it for longer so I’ve started another and the first thing I did was write ‘some Serious gardening goals – keep the journal going all year.’ I underlined ‘serious’ so that when I find it in five years time with only the first week’s entries written out I’ll know how serious I was.
My other goals are
- a wildlife pond (last attempt a disaster)
- harvest something everyweek from my veg garden from March
- reclaim unused spaces and provide seating areas, specifically (its important when setting goals to be specific) the Rose Garden, the North Corner and the Avenue.
I like giving grand names to all the little bits of my garden especially the ones that look as though the house is abandoned. The Rose Garden, for instance, is a bit of my drive way that I dug up after a very inspirational rose garden tour. I didn’t get very far with it, roses are expensive and blah blah insert excuses here; anyway it looks dreadful. It’s also right at the front door so you can’t miss it inless you choose not to go out of the house. Since I can’t do that I’m going to have to make it into a fabulous garden.
I have a lot more goals but I thought I should only write down a few and focus on those. Like having too many tabs open on your computer I suspect too many things to focus on slows down your performance. If you’re naturally a too many tabs open kind of person then you have to focus on cutting down your focusses which of course is just one more thing to focus on.
On a positive note, even if it all goes to pot now and I get distracted by whatever it is that usually distracts me, the veg garden I planted out in the weeks around the world spinning from 2015 to 2016 looks pretty awesome and the potatoes are doing marvelously. For some reason potatoes seem to be my most dependable crop and if nothing else we’ll get a good lot of them.
e. e. cummings wrote, ‘in time’s a noble mercy of proprtion/ with generosities beyond believing’. One of these generosities is the New Year. Every year is another chance to start over, a renewal of hopes, dreams, good intentions and a reminder that life is a work in progress.
Gardens too are very forgiving in this way. Very few of our disasters will be noticable in a few years. You can plant over, redesign, take grass out, put grass back; even trees can be moved, although of course this should be avoided if possible. It is better to plonk something enthusiastcally in the wrong place and have to move it in the middle of summer than to sit around trying to decide until the poor thing expires in it’s pot. I’ve definitely killed more plants the latter way.
There may be gardeners who plan everything meticulously with beautiful water-coloured drawings (or computer generated 3D reditions) showing what it will look like and where each tree, shrub and annual will go. Some gardeners probably make it up as the go along. I suspect most of us are a combination of the two. I’m about half and half, I plan out for a bit and then think ‘What the hell, better get going or I’ll never start.’ This goes against all advice but I firmly believe it’s better to garden badly than not to garden at all.
And of course it’s better to attempt to revive your blog and end up fizzling out in May than to give it up entirely. Especially if your mum likes to sigh sometimes and say, ‘I wish you’d go back to your blog’.
So whatever type of gardener you are, or if gardening is not your thing but you want to paint, write, build eco-pods, learn piano or take up cricket, just get out there and do it. Don’t worry that you might not stick to it, if you don’t you can try again next year. In the meantime here’s some good life advice from someone who isn’t me and I hope to still be around next year.