Our garden is growing. This time last year it was an overgrown wilderness, which I sincerely regret not taking pictures of. Overtaken with brambles, dock, ivy, rosebay willow herb, and an invasive variant of the shrub spirea, the ‘wilderness’ we were given along with our bungalow covered an area measuring in the region of 20ft by 40ft without any let up.
So many things took up our time last spring that my only resort was to find a gardening company who would come and cut what parts of the lawn were useable and recognisable as such, and spray the rest with weedkiller to kill the overgrowth. But, as the summer and autumn progressed, I began, slowly, to make progress in wrestling borders from the weeds, digging up rubbish, moving rocks and rubble and turning the plot into what it always should have been – a garden.
So, as I said at the start, our garden is growing. And now we are lucky to have a garden indeed, not just a wasteland. I guess the possibility was always underneath all that rubbish, but it took many weeks and months of digging, lifting, pulling, bagging and sweating to encourage the butterfly to emerge from its crysalis. Over the winter, in all but the stormiest weather, for a spare hour here or 45 minutes there, my garden fork and I were making slow and steady progress, progress that can now, finally, be enjoyed.
All the spirea is gone. I now have primulas, hostas, lillies, loosestrife, honeysuckle, daffodils, crocuses and more in the borders. Apple, crabapple, hazel, elder and blackcurrant bushes are in position as skeletons of a hedge. Garlic, broad beans and lettuce are emerging from the dark earth of my vegetable plot and chives, marjoram, oregano and rosemary are making progress in my herb garden. Everywhere you turn, everywhere you look, there are little green shoots, tiny seed leaves, emergent buds and the faintest indications that the darkest times of winter are behind us and spring has sprung.
I am, I have to admit, very pleased with what has been accomplished. Although time-wise, I’ve spent the most hours in the garden, I’ve had help and enouragement from my family and from many neighbours, which has been essential in keeping me going, especially on cold days. One of lady has commented on several occasions that she is sure I never leave the garden and that I spend all day with a fork in my hand! It’s a labour of love, a labour made easier when people walk past on the footpath that runs adjacent to the fence and tell me that it’s never looked so good in at least a decade. And yes, with the pleasure I take comes a little pride too, when I look and think, ‘I dreamed a dream of a garden full of new life, and then I helped to make it happen’.
I’ll write again, I hope, when I get the first lettuce, the first herbs, the first beans. I’ll write of the big harvests of the autumn, of finding places to store the onions that I hope will grow and the potatoes I hope I’ll dig. In a year or two, or maybe three, I’ll share stories of picking apples and the joy of making home made, home grown, crab apple jelly and nibbling home roasted hazelnuts.
It is a dream come true for me, to take a patch of wilderness and encourage new life to come from it. To look at the spot where the weeds and rubbish were so dense one couldn’t even walk 18 months ago, and then to reach down and take a harvest of good fruit or vegetables from the very same spot is a beautiful thing. Many people say that spring is the time when the hard work in the garden starts. But for me, the hardest bit of the work is over. Now, instead of dreaming the dream of new life I have the chance to taste it.