As you grow older, there are things in life you expect, and things that completely catch you by surprise. I never, ever expected in my youth to be quite so taken by plants. Its not a passion for me the way it is for LL. For her gardening is almost a mediation. She can loose herself outside, just keep moving about, planting, pruning, weeding. In our early days together it sometimes upset me the way I’d have to go out time and time again to pull her away from her other world.
Now I know better, but she’s also got a bit better at listening. Its rare I have to remind her more than three times that dinner is ready (trust me when I say this is a vast improvement). She frets about all the things yet to do in the garden, sometimes I think her fingers actually itch to get out there and run dirt through them.
For me its different. I think I could quite happily leave the actual gardening stuff to others (wrong, I know I could). There are things I enjoy, certainly. The roses are my domain, I do most of the trimming, feeding, and they are the one plant that is “non-organic”. I use a chemical fungicide to keep black spot and a particularly vicious white leaf mould we have in our parts at bay. There are other duties I’d quite do without. Turning the compost over comes to mind, and I absolutely loathe having to get the fruit cages up over the various berry plants we have (necessary though, else the birds would strip them clean).
No, for me the enjoyment just is the garden. I was out watering the pots on the terrace last night (we have over 30 pots of all shapes and sizes, from an eight foot high jasmine, to olive trees, to tomatoes), and I just paused and breathed. This is one of my favourite times, both the peonies and roses are in bloom, plus countless other flowers, and the air is heavy with scent. Man made perfume just can’t compare to a mature garden in bloom. It just fills you up with contentment.
I have a rather bad habit of wandering the garden and counting the number of different plants in bloom at any one time. As of the weekend we had 22 species of flower in bloom, and 53 different varieties (for example we have 12 types of rose,a nd eight types of peonie). I don’t know why this gives me pleasure, other than noting it here, its not something I tell anyone else about. I think its just the act, the rather compulsive mantra of counting as I slowly walk.
Sometimes, especially right now, I go sit under the pergola and let myself shut down. The pergola is a set of large wood beams done in an open frame. We’ve built a fairly large one, some 12m x 6m, with a framed walkway up to it. Its covered in rose, whisteria and a grape vine grown from a cutting taken from LL’s parents house (which is of unknown vintage, having been ancient already when they bought the place 40 years ago). On a sunny day, its shady, on a overcast day, its sheltered, right now its covered in flowers. There’s a full view of the house and garden, so I can take in LL pottering around, or the kids playing.
So, I got caught by surprise. It’s a very middle aged thing I suppose, to enjoy the garden. Yet, having now lived with one I really wouldn’t be without it. Having grown to love the one we have now I think I’d be heartbroken to ever move. Life just throws these things are you, and this love is so very welcome.