A Garden’s Secret Lives..
Season 3 – Autumn/Winter 2019/20
The other day, whilst out Suze and l were discussing the garden and the ‘gardening’ and the new season’s plans for 2020. Our garden is a nice garden but it is too large for what we need … we got a bigger garden for Scrappy, who sadly these days doesn’t use a garden like she once did …it’s a sad recollection to have and experience when you look at the days of yesteryear.
The what were’s in comparison to what are’s of today. If only gardens could talk we wonder, what would they say?
What would our garden say of us? What would we say of our garden from yesterday? We have had this garden in our care since July 2016, so just over three years now. It is a rental, and our landlady insisted upon the new renters who took the property on ‘must be gardeners or have a love for gardening!’
The Garden and how it looked 18th August 2016 looking down to the shed.
Suze was more the outdoorsy gardener than me, but l thought why not – how hard can gardening be? Looking back over the years l do wonder what the garden might say or think or what it remembers …
I should imagine our garden today would talk of all the times it had seen Scrappy race around the centre mound, and trapse down by the sides of the fence, or chase off the pigeons ‘yelling’ Get orf my land and really meaning it! This garden was Scrappy’s domain, she back in 2016 and all the way through to effectively November of last year , really loved this garden – she liked being outside in it, she liked it more if Suze and l were outside at the same time. however, l think perhaps looking back, that the garden all became a bit too much for her late last year and gradually her interest waned off.
Now the garden means nothing to her, most of the time because of the impairment l don’t even really think she sees the garden … she is l think going to see her 16th birthday – 30th of this month … but l don’t know if she will see the end of the year – she might, but her walking is becoming more and more strained, and the K9 dementia is very, very worrying, emotionally stressful and distressing to us, physically stressing to her perhaps … she knows she is slower and maybe she knows she sleeps more and at irregular times.
Garden 18th August 2016 looking towards the house from the shed.
What she doesn’t know is that she wakes up from the slumbers a different dog to the one before going to sleep – she doesn’t know who she is, who we are, what the house is, what the doors are there for and what on earth is the garden? She has a wee, or a poo, maybe a sniff and then she is back in and so starts the discomfort of living with a companion with dementia.
The garden has seen all of this, the playfulness, the accident which is when the IVDD occured that day in December 2016 – and the garden witnessed the arrival of what is more then likely going to be the reason that we have to have her put to sleep – degenerative arthritis. I am in constant admiration of my dog, and dogs in general – we have no idea, not really what they put up with out of loyalty to their owners and then dogged determination.
The compost station 18/08/16 before it was anything to do with compost.
The garden has seen the rise and fall of my lovely little girl who sleeps beside me daily as l type out about our lives.
But equally the garden has seen Suze and l as a couple develop and break and rebuild and get stronger, it has seen us in good times and bad alike.
A couple of weeks back, some friends remarked to us that ‘gardening for the table’ was a complete and utter waste of time and they were baffled why we did it!? “Well, it works out more costly surely?” He remarked. “Yes and no.” I answered “The garden can give you more than just vegetables for the table, ” l answered, “It can provide you with answers that can help you reach the truer fruits of life.”
“Oh l have no time for religious mumbo jumbo, didn’t think you were believers anyway?” He remarked again.
“It’s got fuck all to with religion or any mumbo jumbo … it’s more a case of when you understand or start to understand your land and your own capabilities, that you are able to truly benefit from the knowledge your garden offers you. It will award you with satisfaction, pleasure, philosophy, sanctuary, sanity and a sense of self – a sense of achievement, of accomplishment when your labours finally pay off – nothing what so ever to do with religion. It’s belief, your belief in your ability to succeed.” I responded.
“Ha! You get all that from gardening? Have to be honest, l don’t get that, l mow the lawn and the grass is cut. What you are saying is that twiddling with this and that and playing with your worms gives a sense of oneness right?”
“Yeah, that’s exactly what l get from it – a oneness with nature and doing my bit.”
This garden has seen a lot since 2016 when we arrived … it has also received a lot. It has had awarded to it, a lot of TLC and love and thanks because of what it offers its guardians, those who attend to it and tend to it with care. We took an unloved garden and loved it and in return it has given a lot of joy. I’ll not deny there has been hardship in this garden, it has had to endure a lot like Suze and l have had to endure a lot as a couple.
All of us combined, Scrappy, Suze, the Garden and l have been through a lot to bring us to where we are now, looking forwards to season 4, or really our third growing season. I don’t think sadly one of us will be with us for the full season, but her memory will always live on.
Prior to living here, and not including a couple of times when managing my animals later 90’s and early millenium – l had not had the slightest bit of interest in gardening – in fact this is an entry in my ‘Gardening group page in Facebook’ from September 2016.
“”I have never been a gardener. I have never even had the slightest interest in green fingered gardening – so imagine the surprise when l decided that my new hobby was to be vegetable, fruit and herb gardening!?
Should be interesting for a guy that goes into a melt down if he has mud/dirt on his hands and eek under his fingernails!
The new property is the starting zone for the new hobby!””
September compost station 2016
Yet from that point, l was starting to compost, something l literally fell in love with as a hobby or passion’. The garden became a safe haven for me, it aided my mental health and well being which was in late 2016 and early 2017 in pretty good health – mentally l would take a serious tumble in 2017, and the relationship between Suze and l would be pushed to the outer limits of survival.
In 2017, Suze had been struggling with menopause and was now post menopausal and was put onto HRT, which reacted very badly with her and she became an absolute monster and in that the months of spring and summer of 2017, my mental health broke and so too did my love for gardening. By August l had split up with Suze, as l couldn’t take her anymore, her behaviour. my Asperger’s became maddening to her and so we split up. But we stayed in the house and the garden, for Scrappy. Mentally it was a nightmare, l stopped loving the green gardening side, and literally just worked my magic with the composting side, whilst Suze worked the growing side.
Bug Hotel created November 2016
Our future – unknown – we were there for Scrappy, our fur child. We weren’t hostile towards each other, we still loved each other, just horribly confused with basically what the hell was going on. By December of 2017, Suze had come off HRT, and was starting to return to the woman l knew and we were ‘friends’ again of sorts, still with an unknown future.
Time didn’t get any better, because in January 2018, my shoulder started to play up and would be a continued problem until May 2019 when it finally started to recover after physiotherapy.. Suze was then forced to attend to the gardening by herself and l was becoming more frustrated with the lack of help l could offer. But the garden survived, the compost pile sat unloved for well over a year from April 2018 – April 2019 – but was dormant….but it too survived.
Apricot tree March 2017
Bug Hotel August 2017
Despite all of this, Suze and l breaking up, getting worse, getting better, friendships renewed, injuries, stress, the pain of Scrappy, shoulder pain – we still worked the garden or the compost as best as we could as two people, as a couple, as furry child parents …. and like the garden we survived. The garden and the gardening and composting enabled us to think, recover and rebuild – because everything can survive if you give it time – the garden proved that.
Suze and l only came really good again as a couple in February, and way, way stronger by May of this year – which is only six months ago now and now we are back where we were but much better at it. We survived and the garden survived, and all of us got through together like a glue of sorts … and now we are all together and stronger and once more looking forwards to a new season of gardening after some really bad seasons of sorts, but that is the beauty of gardening and composting l think. Gardening has a philosophy of its own – most assuredly it has a life of its own – but the essence of gardening, is l think, nothing is ever really that bad that can’t be fixed and if something dies, it will always be remembered.
Not really sure, why l wrote this today … l guess there is a lot on my mind.
Anyway l’ll take my leave of you now
Thanks for reading everyone, till the next time …