If I recovered next week I would garden from morning ‘til night. As things are now, I settle for thinking about gardening from morning ‘til night. It’s a lovely thing.
I’ve been flicking through a couple of Edna Walling books and wondering if I’ve found one of my garden soul-mates. She loved erigeron (seaside daisy) - until now I had never come across a garden writer, or anyone at all for that matter, who loves erigeron like I do. Edna also loved birch trees, dry stone walls, and bossing people around. Say no more.
I germinated some erigeron and my husband planted them out. The seedlings are doing splendidly and flowering with gusto. I show them to visitors, but perplexingly, there have been no cartwheels in honour of their brilliance.
When I was a whipper-snapper I thought gardening was boring, although I loved my grandmothers’ gardens.
Granny (maternal side) and Papa’s garden is a cottage garden in the true sense - a mixture of productive and ornamental plants. It tells the story of their life together and emanates simplicity, charm, and grace. There’s a small vineyard in one corner, a nod to Papa’s profession as a viticulturist. They are instinctive and knowledgeable plants-people, if I grow up with a skerrick of their combined knowledge I’ll be thrilled. Their garden is my favourite place in the world. When I travel in my mind to my happy place, that’s where I go. I'm not sure I'll see it again in this lifetime - I'm in Queensland and they're in South Australia, but it will always be my sliver of heaven.
Nana (paternal side) and Grandpa’s garden in Victoria was more formal. Beautiful mass-planted roses by the house, agapanthus along the drive. A whacking great bunya pine. I never saw either of them gardening, Nana worked full-time and Grandpa wasn’t well so I think they had a man who came to help, but Nana adored the garden. I remember helping her water the roses, she was always reminding me to give them a nice long drink. I also remember splashing in the bird bath as a baby, no matter the people who say you can’t remember things that far back.
In my early 20s I travelled from Queensland to Adelaide to convalesce at Granny and Papa’s, and spent many hours on the cane lounge gazing out the window at the hollyhocks, quince tree, lavender, and all the other wonders. On my return home, my mother gave me some herbs to grow in pots on the verandah. I toppled into garden love. As love so often does, it took me by surprise. I was much stronger than I am now and could garden a little bit, though no heavy work. I used to read the same Digger’s catalogue for three hours at a time. My passion continued fully-fledged until I had the Great Relapse of 2004 which coincided with an apartment-living lifestyle and the prison of bed. Along with any activity not related to basic survival, my garden involvement shrivelled up. In 2005 I started this blog, a little garden of words, instead.
Now I’m a born-again gardenista, working on finding ways to participate in a garden of dirt and leaves and weeds. My body is still recalcitrant - very much so, but I love gardening with my eyes. I’m the garden sentinel, or maybe the garden is mine. There is something so perfectly hopeful about a growing plant. Each bud that emerges is a victory, an unspeakable beauty, a bold solace, a declaration of the natural rhythm of growth and expansion. The plants are generous enough to share all that with me. I thank them.