Tuesday, 16 August 2011

It's been a strangely reflective week.
Whatever type of gardener you are, come the following year, everything pretty much stays the same. Sure, some things flower or grow more, or slightly differently, but as 'the baton holder', we do what needs to be done to ensure the continuation of growth in the best way that we can. We occasionally introduce new arrivals to the collective flock, and if they are perennials, we nurture them with love in the hope that they may be, perhaps, our own contribution to something special for now and whoever is next. If they are annuals, we perhaps take a personal and selfish pleasure for ourselves, enjoying that blast of design and colour that shall only be there for one season. Year by year, the clock never.....ever stops. The same grass grows, the same hedges grow, weeds still annoy us, we still sweat in our attempts to maintain some sort of control, whether we are running a large scale gardening company, or just have our own private and tiny back garden. Some plants thrive, some just plod along in a mildly indifferent state, some fight against all odds and others just give up. Some are our best friends, some enemies, and others just fellow companions on this life journey.

Over the last couple of months, I have been involved not just in the gardens, but sometimes quite intimately in the lives of those whose gardens I tend. It really is a great privilege to be confided in as I sometimes am, and even to this day I'm not sure why the gardener is sometimes chosen for this role. As a result, as well as tales of great joy, there have been several of great sadness, and at times strength.

Many posts ago, last year I think, I mentioned a married couple at the cottages in Mudeford, who always bring me out a cup of tea and have a chat. The husband, who was a rather dry but hilarious man, had at the time been struggling with bowel cancer, and had in fact eventually been given the all clear. The relief was immense as you can imagine. However, two months ago he went for tests for a suspected kidney stone and was told that all of the tumour had in fact not been removed, and as a result his liver and kidneys were now involved and he had a very short time to live. He died four weeks later, his last words to me were 'do you want a coffee?', and now his wife is picking up the pieces of a life spent entirely in his company. She still tends their part of the garden just as immaculately.

Another customer, a lady this time, is always the picture of strength and personal grooming to perfection. A very strong character and not a fool in any way. I had noticed that she was missing for several weeks until she reappeared once more. Nothing had changed about her at all as she told me the story of her last few weeks in which she had collapsed in her flat with a heart attack and subsequently a stroke, all brought on by a vicious stomach virus that we have all been struggling with at times. How can one go through that and come out looking the same?

Another couple were clearing out their garage and offering us several useful items rather than throw them away. The garage contained many, many things, far more than anyone should have, and as the gentleman went away for a few moments, his wife told us briefly the story of why this is the case.
During the war, he had been taken as a boy to the death camps and lost everything. His entire family, what possessions he had, his hair, clothes, dignity and hope. He survived, thank God, for the rest of us, and has since not wanted to simply throw anything away for the sake of tidyness. Even though his wife is completely the opposite, she has never pressed him to part with things, instead leaving him to decide when the time is right for himself. Despite the horrors of his past, a man who never seems to stop smiling or have a kind word of greeting.

It may seem a bit of a morose post on the surface, but actually the ups and downs of life, both in the plant world and of those people that we know, are just are own footsteps in the sand, ready for the tide of time to wash away and start afresh. Whether a particular plant brings a special pleasure to us in our lives at some time, or a person has an effect on our lives in some way, they are all just another stitch in lifes rich tapestry. On Thursday I have to have a procedure to check for Mr.C, and if all goes well nothing will be found. At the same time our Hamamelis mollis has been suffering from something rather severe looking. For months we have tried to identify what may be causing this problem to one of our own loved flock.

 And then it dawned on me, every day, in his excitement at seeing the various birds fly over him en-route to the feeders, Hobie lets loose his own special rainfall from atop his fencepost perch, straight down onto the Hamamelis.

The moral I suppose is.....whether healthy or not, or a favourite or not, there is usually something trying to pee on your parade!
I don't know if all of this makes any sense, but it's just where my thoughts are at the moment.
Thanks for taking the time to drop by.


  1. Gary, you have written beautifully about the joys and sorrows in this circle of life. One of the reasons I love gardening so is that it keeps me in touch with that. I will be praying that your procedure on Thursday goes well and that nothing will be found.