I was out in the garden yesterday, wrestling with our new self-propelled lawnmower, and wondering if anyone else was struggling to get ‘back to normal’. Having taken No Mow May a little too seriously, by not actually mowing the lawn since last October, and given that it’s already the middle of June – this weekend I tried to claw our garden back from nature.
Lockdown is starting to seem like a dream – especially our lockdown garden. Did we ever really mow, grow, and linger so long in our garden? Could we really have had time to make new raised beds – and then tend them and lovingly keep up the grassed spaces in between? Did I really blithely set myself the goals of a bean cathedral; a new bed for herbs; to extend the flower beds around the house, and to add another raised bed for more veggies? I absolutely did. I wrote them down and wrote about them here. Of that list only the herb bed was dug and planted and has had to fend for itself ever since; the only sign of the new vegetable bed is the line of no less than four varieties of potatoes still sitting on the windowsill in the kitchen.
Getting back to normal has been wonderful: going back to work, getting the business back up and running, and having the girls back at school and in clubs, seeing family and meeting up with friends, but I do miss having all that time to pursue other things. More than to just pursue them, but to really put in the hours and effort it takes to get the most out of something.
As I battle to control the lawnmower, though, that beautiful lockdown garden feels a million miles away.
However, in the garden I can see the time we put in last year. It has paid off in the lines and rises of the vegetable garden as it reveals itself through the grass, in the gorgeous blossoms on the apple trees, in the quality of the lawn I carve out behind me. Most of the flowers we planted last year are blooming or are in bud and I can see that our research and careful selection to suit our garden and climate was worth it. I have celebrated each flower with a prayer of thanks, a wee enquiry about the possibility of holding off on the gales till December, and a coffee or a wee glass of wine, depending on when I get a minute.
I can also see it in how inquisitive the girls are about what is growing and what can be eaten, and, after months and months of being told not to squash them, how gentle they are with all the wee beasties they find. Together they put in an early request for a ‘garden’ next to their Wendy house, easily done as their favourite flowers turned out to be dandelions and daisies.
I’m not naturally green fingered, but I do believe that things have an innate desire to grow and will do so, mostly. I miss my lockdown garden, but I’ve come to understand that the lesson gardening teaches us is that the true joy is in the process – it is a verb after all, and if you are not doing it, all the time, you don’t have a garden.