Over the past two days I've had the pleasure of 'playing about' in other peoples gardens. I've been doing some garden design, planting and maintenance - mainly for friends - for the past year now and I adore it. So, although I don't currenly have my own garden, I now have several gardens to play in and keep tabs on. It's nice to have gone a whole year in some of them now, seeing the whole cycle through (especially with those that were neglected or overgrown at first and now are full of pleasant surprises).
It all started when I got Sam to make a planter for a friend's birthday and then I bought her some plants to go in it - her balcony was so bare before and I knew that some plant life would cheer it up a bit. (She already had the small conifer and I couldn't be so mean as to chuck it .. so it stayed).
Actually, we've done a few planters for those with limited space. I've yet to convince people to grow veg in them - but I'm working on it!. Mind you there is some sage in this one below, which is a good start.
Isn't it nicer to have this than an empty space ? I think so anyway.
Gardening for others has been a pretty good substitute for having a garden of my own and whenever I go and 'play' in them the buzz is as good (and buying plants with other people's money is just as good as it was buying them for myself). I guess I've been lucky that I've been given pretty much free reign. It is just so exciting to see a the potential in an empty (or overgrown) space and then bring it to life.
So, I have my fix of garden pottering and planting for this week. When the sun came out yesterday I don't think there was anywhere in the world I'd rater have been than in a garden.
Maybe perhaps being in MY garden - but that doesn't exist yet (that part really is still a field right now).
I have two almost conflicting desires for MY garden. One the one hand I'm looking forward to creating it slowly, taking account of the seasons, the sun, wind and views .. and letting it gently evolve. However, I am also really quite desperate to get planting (could you have guessed that from previous posts?). It's the veg I'm desperate to get going with. I'm quite surprised at the depth of my excitement for 'growing my own'. I know there is the desire for control (to know that my food is of good quality and well cared for) and of choice (there are so many more varieties to choose from when you grow your own - and better organic choice) but the best buzz, for me, is watching things grow, watching life spring forth from a tiny seed and then grow into a fine plant, then a fine crop and also more seed. It is a childlike wonder, almost an awe. I'm aware of the risks of potential disappointment - but it's worth it when it's time to pick the first tomato or garlic or rocket leaf.
Soon it will become REAL and shift out of this planning stage. I'm not scared of hard work and I'm really looking forward to doing it, yet I have moments of wanting to hold onto the dream stage where everything feels so simple and pure. I feel it shift already, as I wonder where I'll get enough manure, or just how tricky my clay soil will be to work, or how much compost it will take to fill for potato tyres, or if it is crazy trying to grow quinoa in Leitrim.
I'm also very curious about how I'll marry my desires for productivity and beauty. I know that I want both and I'm sure that I'll do mixed planting and have some flowers in with the veg (and some veg in flower borders when/if I get round to it). Of course, vegetable plants are beautiful in their own right (wasn't it the climbing bean that was originally used as an ornamnetal because of those striking scarlet flowers?). Also, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so if straight rows float your boat - then it's beautiful.
Hmm, so the question really is 'What is beautiful to me?'