11 April 2022

How does my garden grow

Arum Lily

The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun,
heart with nature
– Alfred Austin –

quiet place in the shade

Quiet place in the shade

I have gardened for most of my life by now. Certainly my parents gardened, kept a tidy garden but for me I first woke up to the possible magic of a garden when I met my husband’s grandmother. Hers was the first garden I saw that had a distinct personality. How could it be otherwise? She was a feisty interesting woman.

forest bird bath

Forest bird bath

Many years later I visited Highgate Cemetery on a cold July day, I soon wandered off into the east cemetery, entranced by how wild it was, overgrown, mysterious, like the setting for a fairy tale. That image took up residence in my mind. And it is really only recently that I have realised that those images, grandma’s garden and the east cemetery have always been lurking in my imagination.

Garden Buddha

Buddha

Here where I have been living since 2010 but only doing serious hands-on gardening since 2015, I have been schooled by the realities of gardening within sight and sound of the ocean on a rocky mountainside buffeted by hot summer winds! And then just in case I was getting ideas above my station we ran head on into a long, long drought. One year I just about gave up, had days when I couldn’t bear to go into the garden because it was so painful to see plants withering but then shifted direction and started using a lot of rocks, pine cones, logs, just odd bits of wood to cover up the glaring gaps where plants had not survived and slowly worked my way back to my old enthusiasm for the magic of grandma’s garden, the mystery of the east cemetery.

Starling

Starling

Birds! The common starlings who are a huge presence in the neighbourhood and garden seem to consider themselves co-owners. From time to time they decide to roost overnight in our bathroom causing a flurry in the early hours when one of us uses said bathroom and the starlings then throw themselves about hysterically at the intrusion! Yes, we can close the window and often do, but in the winter when the rain is falling and I can see three or four starlings huddled in a row on the window sill I do want to invite them in and offer little warm towels!

In the last year in particular; gardening, digging, planting, watering, working day by day towards a picture in my head has been a road to recovery for me. It has been a joy and satisfaction to be creating something tangible. I never have anything but the vaguest plan when I start something new, such a pleasure to feel it taking shape. I think that gardening and cooking elicits that feeling of zen, being in the zone and making something that has not a lot to do with the conscious mind. And it is fun! We are working on one of the lower levels of our narrow piece of mountain and we take down a basket with water, flask of coffee and provitas or rusk and reward ourselves with a picnic!

Garden bench

Garden bench

Please Share!

Bread and butterFood on the plate!
Cape landscapeRemembering a Friend

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Sue Hepworth
Sue Hepworth
1 month ago

a nice piece. 😊
You’re so kind to your starlings!
I wish I could think of cooking as you do. How do I reclaim my interest of 30 years ago? If I were rich I’d employ a cook/housekeeper so I could have delicious food and a clean house with no effort on my part.

Savyra
Savyra
1 month ago

Di, yet another fabulous post. Thank you! You inspire me so. I especially loved your mention of the starlings. I adore them with their melodious birdsong and then their sounds when they’re all squashed up together on the windowsill. Their little queetch-queetch noises as they remonstrate with each other, is too cute.