Saturday, 17 October 2009

Raw Earth

I had about three hours today while my niece babysat Sam, so I raked and cut and cleared and clipped and finally I can see a big patch of ground.

I haven’t posted for a while but I’ve been busy in the garden, here and there when I’ve had a couple of hours to spare, and sometimes when I’ve had no time to spare I’ve still been digging and sweeping and looking and thinking.

I’ve given up on keeping my focus on the end of the garden, although that is still my main priority. I’ve spent a lot of time out there this year. I’m getting to know her quite well now, and am seeing her as a whole environment. So to clear and nurture one part seems rather allopathic when I am a holistic kinda gal at heart.

And, if I’m being honest, which I am, no holds barred for a moment, this project was never going to be just about clearing some space to make a veg patch, although that is what started it all, and is still the main physical objective.

This is about transformation and challenge: My transformation, my challenge; My spirit, Sam’s spirit; the locus genii and the spirit of my mother.

Today I re-housed a tiny lizard; disturbed an enormous toad and then tried to put the roof back on his house until I have somewhere else he might like to live. I raked over two red-ant hills and another colony was destroyed when I pulled up a plank of wood.

That is one of the tensions of gardening. The wildlife in the garden has settled and proliferated and now I am uprooting and unsettling in the name of cultivation and care. Do all gardeners make a contract with the wildlife that shares their space? I will re-organise and re-shape but then I hope to offer as much opportunity for the wildlife in the garden to stay as was. I hope I can manage this.
I remember listening to Gardener’s Question Time on Radio 4 years ago, and one of the listeners’ questions was how to get rid of worm casts on a lawn, and whether it would be possible to get rid of the worms! This was obviously met with reserved BBC-style hilarity and an explanation of why this would not be a good idea.

So, as in life there are all kinds of gardeners, gardening for all kinds of reasons. But the above story does raise a question about how connected we are with our environment. And if we do have a connection, what kind of connection is it and what does it mean?

Last week I planted a Japanese anemone and a perennial geranium, ‘hocus pocus’, by the apple tree. Today I soaked some Winter Aconite corms in water for a few hours and then planted those in the same place. I am trying to add a mix of plant species that will provide colour and variety throughout the year.

The michaelmas daisies were still buzzing with bees today and I managed to get a couple of good bee photos. I have been filling up the large border by the patio with bee-friendly perennials and will continue to make sure the bees are well catered-for in this garden.
The importance of this must not be under-estimated with the critical situation our bee population is in. If you don’t know about this now is the time to get educated. The implications of the devastation of our bee population cannot be overstated. I will write about this again here but see the excellent Help Save Bees web site here for a feature I wrote which gives some idea of the issues.
Everything I do takes longer than I thought it would- such is life- but I am still amazed at what I achieved in three hours.

I have done every single bit of it myself so far. My dad has taken a few loads of bramble cuttings and general garden rubbish to the local recycling centre but I have done the rest. For the time being it looks like it will continue to be my own solitary project.

I’ve had a couple of offers of help but so far it’s just been me. I look forward to the help when it comes – I am sure I will be ready for it! But at the moment this is time to connect with the earth, build a relationship with this place, think and make new connections in my brain and have some precious time out from everything else.
I am doing this as well as being a full time lone mum to Sam and a full time student, so I’m on a slow-but-steady pace. Wins the race.