I’ve always been fascinated with the idea of gardening and gardens, but to be honest, I had never really tried to do it with much conviction- with the exception of completely wrecking one of my mom’s flower beds with a ‘decorative’ stone and brick arrangement (sorry mom) as a teen.
That changed when Adam and I moved into our previous abode in Sandringham, henceforth referred to as ‘that shit hole’. The nice thing about ‘that shit hole’ was that our land lady had literally zero fucks to give about what we, or any of the tenants, did to the property. This was likely because she had done so little to it herself, like make it fit for human habitation…but I digress. That shit hole had a huge, sprawling garden, and included a walled off little private patch of our own. My first, real garden.
After battling for weeks to fix the exposed, broken sewerage pipes round the back of our flat, we finally managed to get the whole mess concreted over. And that was the start. Looking at the clean, repaired cement where only chaos and mud had been, I started working that shit hole’s garden.
I pulled (no exaggeration) about 5kgs of broken glass out of the contaminated ‘vegetable patch’ before covering that with gravel. In the flower beds that hadn’t been affected by the previous deluge of human effluent, I grew spinach, butternut and strawberries. I trained cherry tomatoes to climb trellises, which is hard, because plants are really fucking stupid.
I cut new beds out of the grass, grew succulents and geraniums from clippings, planted herbs in abandoned pots and uncovered a long-forgotten path around the back of the property. I spent hours and hours and hours moving clods of earth, rocks and compost from one corner to another.
They were long, gruelling, thankless hours. And I loved them.
When the afternoon sun started to wane along with my strength, I would run a bath and soak my sore muscles in the warm water feeling genuinely satisfied from what was essentially just a day playing in the mud.
We now live in a fancy-ass flat that @xsyn (follow him for A-grade geekery) rents to us. He has also allowed me to do my worst in the garden, which has actually turned out to kind of be my best.
I’ve learnt a lot from all that playing in the mud. I can talk for a wildly inappropriate time about using recycled material for irrigation and feeding systems, planting according to the light, seed beds, and home-made compost.
The thing I’ve learnt the most, is that to do anything right takes a lot of back-breaking labour, and most people won’t even see what you’ve done when you’re done. It’s hard and dirty and there are no instant rewards. You have to wait for them, and sometimes, they don’t come at all. Sometimes things don’t sprout, or they wither up and die, no matter how much love and Seagro you shower them with.
But you do it anyway, you dig, and you sweat and you strain. You do your best and you enjoy your bath afterwards.
Because gardening is as much for the gardener as it is for the garden.