Tuesday, 14 June 2011
I've been away for a while, visiting some gardens.
I've been to two wonderfully academic botanical gardens, where plants are being researched and bar-coded and redefined. You can see one of them 'here',.
I've been to some other gardens of the 'lost in time' variety, beautifully structured, historically interesting places that are being cleverly restored.'Aberglasney' is one of them.
I've been to a richly eccentric garden, festooned in bindweed, where the extremely confident owner said, 'Just ignore the weeds. I do!'
Then I came back home.
My own garden is the place where I learn all the time.....and not just about plants.
It was starting to get me down, my garden.
There is a vine, which spreads itself around, over an iron arbour, over the neighbour's fence, over half the neighbourhood if I don't control it properly. An untended vine can allegedly cover an acre in an unchecked growing season.
In order to control it I need to clamber about on a stepladder with a set of very sharp pruning equipment.
I have a steep rockgarden, full of interesting plants, but also full of bindweed and - even worse - ground elder. In order to control this I need to climb among the rocks, again with nice sharp tools. There are some members of the family who indulge in this thing called 'bouldering'. I am not one of them, but I do appreciate sharp tools.
I need to kneel in order to get close-up and personal with all the weeds in the herbaceous bed, but in the various processes of climbing and clambering I fell and landed hard on both knees. For a couple of weeks I could not kneel, not even on my special padded lift-up-sit-down geriatric kneeling thingy.
Coming back home is such a wonderful thing.
I had to sit in the garden for some time, sniffing the honeysuckles, and the Crambe Cordifolia,(which smells like honey) and watching the swallows screaming across a deepening blue sky. I needed to look at the plants, so many given to me by friends and therefore full of memories. I looked at the summerhouse, built by my late husband from recycled materials and remembered how mad I used to be about his habits of hoarding those same junk materials.
The garden makes me take stock of myself, and to appreciate my life here and now. To leave it would be unthinkable, yet has to be made thinkable, for I have had my three-score years and ten, and I live alone. I have to grow and learn a bit of commonsense, at last.
It is no longer sensible to clamber about on rocks and stepladders with sharp implements, or at least, if I do so I must tell someone what I'm doing.
I must learn to arrange for help when I need it, and to accept that I begin to need it.
There are such things as mobile phones which I should take with me, up on the rockery, up on the pergola.
There are special tools with long handles to ease the kneeling. There are people who can help, if I could but learn to ask.
The acceptance of age is not easy. I am not concerned about the sagging bits, and I actively like the white hair, but it is the garden that teaches me my limitations and makes me grow into them.