This Summer the girls and I dabbled with gardening again. We’d planned to anyway, I had thought it would be a good way to get us all outside in a season I expected to spend with a smallish baby and probably a lack of inclination for going very far away. The way our house is constructed, our living room is on the middle floor and it is only too easy to drift the day away up there, where the high back window stops us from seeing the garden, although we have lovely open space and sky behind us which I do really enjoy and I’d hoped that some flower and vegetable growing would encourage some education and outdoors time simultaneously.
As it happened of course, our plans went rather out of the window and the garden, this year, became something else. It became a place of healing and remembrance as well as a place of work and learning.
Plants and trees poured in in memory of Freddie, from friends and family and people who love us and felt for us and we planted them all together. For me, weeding and tending, watering and watching became part of what healed me. If I couldn’t have what I wanted, I could make other things grow, I could exercise some control over seeing that those things did what they should. There was great pleasure in finding the earth under the weeds (pleasure I may say that was greatly kick-started by the love our cousin and kids showed in doing the first batch of weeding for us!) and pleasure in seeing the seasons marked with bud and flower and autumnal leaf. I’ve not found the change from Autumn to Winter particularly easy, I have to admit, but knowing that the spring bulbs we were given by a caring group of online friends will peep up in Spring has been a huge comfort.
In fact, the donation of bulbs was probably one of the biggest giggles of the Autumn. I was given a voucher to spend at a fairly local bulb wholesaler and I carefully picked out two batches of daffodil mixes to purchase, only to discover (thankfully!) that as the voucher had been specially created for us (and oh, how I love businesses small enough to do what we do and go out of their way for people) I had to phone to order them. So I did. Perhaps if we had been experienced gardeners, I’d have known better, but as it was, I asked only as an afterthought what 50kg of bulbs would look like….
I nearly bought 900 daffodils!!!!! 😆
I was guided through an alternative purchase and ended up with what I hope will be a gorgeous mix of daffs, tulips, snowdrops and bluebells. I hope the time leading up to what would be his first birthday and the time afterwards will be full of colour for us all. The place we have chosen to bury Freddie, though I am not sure when that will actually happen, is overlooked by a field that slopes down and is filled with bluebells. I stood there last year and thought it would be a good place to be. All the gardening in the world can’t beat the beauty of flowers which just are.
Over the summer, in among watering the new trees and dead-heading the shrubs we bought, we learned how to take care of our magnolia trees over the winter, which means that sometime this week I need to mulch and I need to go and buy gardening fleece and wrap them up in a way not dissimilar to I might have wrapped up Freddie in the snow-suit I reluctantly brought home from a holiday last year. I so didn’t want to bring home baby clothes from that swap session, I really wish I hadn’t 🙁 I don’t know why I couldn’t join in or enjoy it but it filled me with horror and it was with great difficulty that I didn’t throw the couple of things that got pressed into my hands back down on to the pile.
And we grew things. I love the idea of square foot gardening but having already proved that I’m way too lazy for an allotment, I discovered quite quickly that the unpleasantly builders clay properties of our garden soil suits neither my inclination to dig, nor vegetables. So again, as we have often done in the past, we planted vegetables in pots. Even with the limited energy we had, even though we didn’t really start until way too late, we still harvested radishes and tomatoes, courgettes and peas, spring onions and carrots. Not in huge quantities but enough to give the girls real satisfaction.
Next year I’d like to improve what we do. I know there is no reason to plan next year as if I’ll be heavily pregnant, since even with a miracle I’m already looking at way beyond Spring and Summer for that, so I’m hoping to get the girls involved with nurturing veggies, planning a planting programme and organising the garden. We’ve got a garden which is big really, for a matchbox house, big enough that sometimes I wish I could get professionals in to do it for me but I know the real healing properties for me this year have been what I achieved and the plants which came to us with love. Planting our bulbs together as a whole family was wonderfully special and hopefully next year we can do more of that.
I’d welcome suggestions and tips from anyone who has them. Good things to grow? Good ways to get the kids involved? Ideas on how to improve my rubbish soil? Feel free to chip in….