I’ve been a hovering appreciator of many a creative blog for some time, enjoying the ideas and inspiration that so many people share across the blogosphere. After much muttering and procrastination Tom and I are jumping in, to share our small corner of the world with you.
My First Garden
Tom and I moved to our little home in Cowes four years ago. We were so excited to finally be setting up a permanent home, after years of long-distance love. We were slow to unpack boxes. The beauty of the Isle of Wight pulls you outside and we need little reason to choose a bike ride over a spring clean. But, we soon settled, and we were happy. The novelty of coming home to each other and talking over the day, without having to reach out across the phone lines, was pleasure enough without bigger plans. We would go out and sit amongst the tall weedy grass of our postage stamp garden to catch some sunshine, and appreciate the trees and gardens beyond the back wall. It was enough. And Tom would talk of how we were encouraging nature by just letting it be.
And yet, I always enjoyed beautiful gardens, and books like Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle got me thinking. Maybe it would feel good to grow more than dandelions. And, more importantly, maybe it wasn’t impossible.
It felt weird to push that spade through the grass. “Do we just dig it right up? Are you sure this is how we’re meant to do it?” Total rookies, which was part of the adventure. It took a long time to realise that it doesn’t take much; just a seed, some soil, some sunshine and rain. That first summer we had a metre-square plot. We squeezed in sweetcorn, lettuce, radishes and peas, all with varying success. I found myself ‘visiting’ the garden so much more, even brushing my teeth out there in the morning before dashing off to work. New discoveries would abound, mainly in the form of weeds (but was it a weed? Or was it that pea shoot I kept hoping would appear?) I discovered our neighbours have chickens. And bees. I’d never before had cause to be out there in the stillness of the morning long enough to notice. Heaven.
This summer is our third vegetable garden. We still seem to do a better trade in nasturtium than in anything else, but are growing new things every year. This year I’m excited about the rhubarb plant that is quietly growing to monster proportions in the corner. It is taking all my willpower to not pull it up right now and plop it in to a crumble.
Every year our plans go a little awry. Our garden is always a late bloomer, as bike rides and picnics and visits to family and friends distract us. But a garden is forgiving and, as my Grama is always reminding me, there is always ‘next year’. Visiting her garden is a rare treat, as she lives over 5000 miles away, but one that is worth the wait. There is nothing better than snapping asparagus straight from the stem and eating it raw, standing with your bare toes in the dry grass and considering what delicious meal you can prepare from what the ground has offered up.
I’m mindful of all I have learnt from our first garden. It is ok, maybe even desirable, to be clueless at the beginning. You will learn, and you will never stop learning. You will not have constant success, but you will always have some, and that will be a joy. As to those didn’t-quite-make-its, there is always next time. Try something new; you may be surprised. To have a garden is to embark on a lifetime of firsts. And who would want to miss that?