Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Growing Places.




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.

14 comments:

marigold jam said...

I know what you mean although I haven't quite got there myself yet but it won't be long I know! I am reminded of the Serenity Prayer -http://www.thevoiceforlove.com/serenity-prayer.html - which I find more and more appropriate these days!

gz said...

Accepting help can be difficult, it isn't just pride. It is learning how to ask, and for the helper,learning how to give without taking over.
My man never really did learn that, it hurt so much to realise that he did need help.
But if you have to leave it, just think....you can start a different garden, have new challenges, and fit them to what you can do, not what you can't.

herhimnbryn said...

You know RR, the acceptance is never easy. However, I used to work with a wise elderly woman, who told me that........she had to use a wheeled walker, but it meant she could still walk, she had to plant in raised garden beds, but it meant she could still garden and she had to use me to take her shopping and to the cafe, but it meant she had someone to laugh with in the supermarket and together we could enjoy a coffee and scone in the outdoor cafe.

Rock on RR, take the phone with you, get the long handles shears and keep on moving!

I say this as one who heaved herself out of bed this morning, did not want to walk in the rain with the hound, but did and jumped in puddles....rock on.

Jane said...

Thank you for the washing machine offer, Judith. It is difficult to ask for help at any age - we were jolly glad of daughter's help last weekend during the great book move. Things are easing up a bit here at last (or we're being a bit more determined)so soon you might get me knocking on your door at last - I'm not much of a gardener but I'm good with sharp tools and stepladders!

Relatively Retiring said...

Marigold Jam: Yes, the serenity thoughts are good at any age - I'm really trying to stay one or two steps ahead.

GZ: You are right, it certainly isn't pride, but it is a fear of being a nuisance to others, and you're also right to say that people could be hurt by this. I hope life is easing a bit for you.

HHnB: Rock on is a great comment - you should see my knees! I think I may have made myself sound rather more decrepit that I actually am. As I said to Marigold J - I'm trying to stay just ahead of myself, and I'm grateful to the garden for highlighting my imperfections and teaching me to be more sensible!
Jumping in puddles is good for everyone, even 71 year olds.

Relatively Retiring said...

Jane: Just don't tempt fate at the moment with step-ladders and sharp things. I think you have enough on your plate and in your basement.

Zhoen said...

The asking is the hardest part. I'm taking the rest bit by bit.

Relatively Retiring said...

Zhoen: yes, asking is really hard. Someone might say 'no'.

leslee said...

Yes, take that cell phone with you and use those long-handled thingies. What a gorgeous garden you have!

Relatively Retiring said...

Thank you, Leslee. Yes, the garden is hard work but very rewarding, especially in June sunshine.

Frances said...

The same realisation that I have just emailed to you.
The trouble is that one doesn't have any need at all for help - until suddenly one does. Anticipating and preparing, eg by carrying the mobile phone, feels more empowering to me than leaving myself in the hands of fate.

Relatively Retiring said...

Frances: do we have problems - I didn't receive an e-mail?
I'm using the alpine walking poles on the rockery!

Jenny Woolf said...

This post is full of wisdom. And I think you are right. Using the help available will enable you to keep on enjoying it.

Relatively Retiring said...

Jenny: thank you for visiting and commenting.
Your blog is lovely.