So ages ago, almost two years in fact I wrote a post about gardens. This morning, while the guy and I were doing outside jobs (me – picking up dog shit, sorting and feeding the menagerie; him – watering the newly planted garden bed he created outside my studio and taking frangipani cuttings) I remembered it. How much it hurt to look at my post summer, post break-up garden. I could not envision it ever being nice again. I’m quite a visionary person but to be honest not really with gardens. I grew up on farm by a (salty) river on the cusp of pastoral country and growing a garden there was one of my many failings. I studied permaculture, I dreamed of the amazing edible landscapes I could create and the vegetable gardens and the fruit orchards and the lush greenery and then I systematically killed every single thing I planted. Needless to say I still have the permaculture books and a vague dream of something other than a garden of weeds, dog shit and dry, dry dirt.
Here’s how to get your garden to grow again. This is what I wrote almost 2 years ago. It’s in italics. Any additional current day comments are not. I hope it helps. I promise I didn’t ever think I would feel that much differently about it. I think this is the grief process. Not just about love relationships, but about loss. the loss of someone or something you imagined would never be lost to you. And it’s also about coming back to life.
1. Water it. If at first you can only manage tears this is OK, but after a while the tears are too salty, and you need to find something else. A bucket full of rainwater is good start. Just one every day, and then two and then four and then…And make sure you wear your new, too short, watermelon pajamas. Just because.
2. Take some time to stand back and have a good look at it. See what remains, if the foundation is solid – the earth in which is grows, the pot that holds the earth, the way the soil is made up of many different parts. Find gratitude for what is there, even in the dried up leaves and the broken-down sticks and the parts that seem unsalvageable. Did you need them all anyway?
3. Pull out the weeds. One by one or all at once. If you have some beautiful friends that like weeding, ask them to help. Or sometimes they will just help anyway, just by the fact they are beautiful.
4. Forgive the fucker who was meant to be part of the whole garden thing and left. Oh, I guess if I’m still saying fucker I haven’t done this one. Really wanted to be all upbeat and useful with my dot points. I’ll have to come back to this one. I’m coming back to this one. Not only do I forgive him I do, in fact, thank him. His garden was never quite completely there you know? It came in fits and bursts and then it stopped. Some consistency is required for a lush garden. Amongst other things. But bitterness does not belong there, it makes stuff sour.
5. Watch what grows in the unexpected places. Like the basil blooming under the lime tree. Glossy green, fragrant, healthy and not specifically planted there as part of some great garden plan. Just when it found space it grew and grew and grew. I am still shit hot at growing basil. I still laugh every time I pick it recalling the fact that my biggest girl ALWAYS called basil “Barry”. Like a person.
6. Find hope in the new things that you can add to the garden, as well as the old things you can cherish back to life. Cherish. What a beautiful word.
7. If you need find someone or someone-s to help. People who know all about gardens and reticulation and lawns and soil and paving and recovering gardens. Sometimes (in fact most of the time) as cool and brave as you are you can’t do it all on your own. People with knowledge or talent or coolness or courage sure help when it feels a bit overwhelming. Or just one nice boyfriend and a paid gardener who does all the maintenance. Pay the nice boyfriend with love and appreciation and don’t tell him too many stories about the shit boyfriends even though it’s one of your favourite topics.
8. Forgive the person who gave you your garden back. If they didn’t want to share it then they weren’t the right person. Thank them for the gift of returning your garden to the rightful owner. YOU.
9. Bring your garden back to life.
The windowsill of my kitchen is growing a vegetable garden in jars. All planted by my biggest girl. I also laugh and recall me doing this when I came from Uni to my farm by a river, as a vegetarian, and made my parents change their diet dramatically and I attempted to grow vegetables. My Dad, although a farmer, was totally cynical about any other type of plant except wheat and wildflowers (Western Australia, bush wildflowers). He had every right to be out there, because to be honest nothing else grew. We live in town now, so her chances of vegetables are much improved. I hope she doesn’t give up like I did. My Dad, still a farmer, moved to town and then brought a truckload of soil and seeds and wildflower plants from the farm to create a (native) garden. He often brings us bunches of flowers like this.
May your garden be lush, may your light be bright. Start with water. Water it. If at first you can only manage tears this is OK, but after a while the tears are too salty, and you need to find something else. A bucket full of rainwater is good start. Just one every day, and then two and then four and then…