Thoughts on Gardens
Beautiful gardens have always been a part of my life. My grandmother would be up at daybreak every day, out in her garden weeding, digging and generally doing garden things. She did that till she was 91! My father grew wonderful vegetables and would infuriate my mother by dumping a huge crop of something or anything on the kitchen bench while saying, “Time to ‘put down’ the beetroot, beans, tomatoes!” or whatever was the crop of the hour. I remember the time he peeled a whole sack of pickling onions while she was out – to “give her a surprise”. Actually, he got the surprise at her reply, when he announced, upon her return (dressed to the nines after a ‘fifties’ afternoon tea,) “Look! I’ve got all the onions ready for you to pickle!”
Now, it is the turn of the next generation to keep the garden dug, so to speak. Our parents and grand-parents have long gone, we are all mildly arthritic or living in houses with small courtyards and our days of back-breaking effort making gardens beautiful are now in the past.
That doesn’t stop us enjoying them, though and my new life in England is offering me the opportunity to revel in an astounding number of fabulous gardens of all shapes and sizes, old and new, meticulously kept or casually natural. (I suspect there is as much work involved in each.)
I think that the British Isles must be an important source of many of the true gardeners of this world and evidence can often be seen in the countries that welcomed British migrants throughout the years. (Or those who had them thrust upon them.) Many seemed to bring with them a strong tradition of home gardening, of ordering the environment and very often, it seems that this desire to order and organise the environment has spilled over into an expectation of attractively designed civic gardens and parks, hanging baskets and memorial fountains, making urban environments easy on the eye and less stressful to live in.
The over-riding feeling that one gets in English gardens, however, is that of age. No matter that one is aware that a garden has only been in existence for a few years, it always looks as though it has been in place for decades. The whole country-side breathes of history and ancient growth.
It must be in the compost!