what we do when we garden
I’ve been rearranging the garden as usual– the garden activity I’m sure I spend most time doing. No wonder the plants grow so slowly and sometimes give up and die of exhaustion and confusion. But I continually rearrange in order to maintain serenity and balance. To make the garden look natural, not contrived.
Today, as I urgently rearranged, I started thinking about the range of activities we gardeners do, and what this says about our garden priorities and values.
Garden activities that come to mind are – in no particular order – watering, weeding, planting, transplanting, buying, swapping, sitting, cleaning, sweeping, pesticide spraying, removing pests by hand, picking or harvesting, pruning, thinking, planning, reading garden – related books or catalogues, using other media, blogging, dreaming, making compost, spreading compost, cooking garden produce, eating garden produce, visiting other gardens, gardening groups, gardening education. Mowing the lawn. Listening. Watching. Taking photos.
For my mother in law, watering, sweeping and cleaning are the most important activities she does in her garden. For my friend David, it is planting, nurturing, harvesting, preparing and eating the fruit and vegetables he grows with such passion and committment.
I only water newly planted or transplanted plants to give them a sporting chance of survival. Then they are on their own as far as non- sky water goes. Garden cleaning has no meaning for me. I love the look of swept paths that show the shape of the garden. I don’t sweep regularly but if I have trimmed, weeded and rearranged a section, sweeping finishes it nicely.
I never spray – insects like aphids in the roses might temporarily affect the look of the buds but when the weather changes they tend to disappear. I have no lawn left to mow. I try to blog when it’s too dark to garden. I pick stuff for the kitchen – parsley and mint mostly.
Compost is probably the second most time consuming activity after rearranging, maybe a dead heat with weeding. Before I spread the compost I use a rake to loosen the top soil. I love weeding and making and spreading compost. It is an opportunity for close inspection of what is growing and living on, above and under the surface. I listen to and watch birds, dragonflies, butterflies, worms, spiders and beetles.
I may continually rearrange the plants in an effort to get the look ‘right’ but the most important thing is to create and maintain a healthy ecosystem as diverse as possible in my suburban garden.