Alexander Averin

Monday, 5 July 2010

The Joys of Gardening

Dear Diary,

In my garden there is a large place for sentiment.  My garden of flowers is also my garden of thoughts and dreams.  The thoughts grow as freely as the flowers, and the dreams are as beautiful.
Abram L Urban

My garden is not huge but it wraps itself around the cottage and there is more than enough for me to cope with, I am so lucky to have the mountain stream flowing through it and the beautiful views. I have taken photos before for the blog but I shall try to take some more this week.

The growing season is short in this upland area of Wales and certain plants just will not grow and those that do are way behind those at lower altitudes.  You soon learn what keels over at this altitude in this acid soil and what thrives I am a bit of a fair weather gardener which probably explains why I am writing today about the joys of gardening. We have had so many weeks of real summer for a change. 

Shall I list these joys?  There are many.

To start with working with the soil ‘earths’ me which does me the world of good as I live too much in my head most of the time.  I love the feel of earth in my hands and the smell of it too.  Although I have to wear gardening gloves there are some jobs that I just can’t do properly with gloves on.  Transplanting seedlings for example, or potting on. 

There is the solitude too which I just have to have at times and I enjoy my own company very much but I am not always completely alone, I am joined sometimes by M who helps out with certain tasks.  I am accompanied at times by a dog or two or a cat and always surrounded by birds; some watch from a distance, some are braver like the robins and the blackbirds who watch patiently in case some tasty morsel is turned over and laid out at their feet,  (Do birds have feet?).  I am watched by squirrels and sometimes spied on by birds of prey like the red kites who swoop above me.  There are more bees this year which is good news and always butterflies around me.  Sometimes there are sheep in the field across the river and they will stand and watch my movements from afar. I wonder what they are thinking.  Perhaps they wonder what I am thinking,

Tending a garden is similar to the practice of meditation because I concentrate fully on the task in hand and become totally absorbed within it.  I am happy and purposeful and the garden seems to be the only place where I can put aside, if only for a while, any worries that I may have.  It is rewarding when a job is done, a ‘corner’ or a bed sorted and improved, an area cleared of weeds brings much satisfaction and reward for much hard work.  And it is ongoing as plants GROW (usually).  Weeds GROW too but I have learned to enjoy, well perhaps enjoy is not the right word; endure perhaps, the chore that is weeding.  My thoughts wander and I often find inspiration while I am doing it.

Gardening is physically exhausting sometimes and I have to limit myself in case I overdo things but at least it beats going to a gym and it is so lovely to be out in the pure fresh Welsh mountain air. The best advice I can give is to take it in small doses and set a time limit - stop when you are still wanting more and then there is the next day to look forward to.  A bit like writing I guess.

Yesterday I gardened in soft rainfall - West Cork weather I call it  - which suits me well.  It was warm but with the softest of rain, real Irish weather, rain that started off more like a mist but soon became the sort that quickly makes you wet through without you realising.  But for me it beat the sweltering heat any day, I was so happy.

Gardening presents challenges which for me, being an Aries, I relish.  However, being an Aries my enthusiasm is apt to wane before the job is finished.  I must try harder….  It is an inexpensive hobby if I restrict myself when I go to garden centres (very hard) and if I wanted to I could grow a lot of my own food…perhaps one day.

Just lately I have begun to see the garden as somewhere I can be creative rather than just somewhere to sweep, cut back, weed and tidy. This is quite exciting.  Just recently our phone line was down and I could not go on the net for a week - I turned to the garden as the weather was so inviting.  I realised that my life had become out of balance because I was spending too much time indoors looking at a computer screen, both at work and at home. I have had a few days off work and am just starting to feel rested.  Pottering is one of my passions and I have been concentrating on practising this one a lot.

Well I must sign off now.  The garden is quite tidy but the cottage needs a clean.  Not today though, I am not in housework mode (or cooking!). Maybe it will rain soon.  I found this quote recently, it is so true.

God made rainy days so gardeners could get the housework done.  ~Author Unknown

I must leave you with a poem. 

My dear cat Molly roams among the roses  - she’s not black but is pure white -  but I still loved the poem by Amy Lowell. I hope you like it too.

A Black Cat Among Roses

A black cat among roses,
Phlox, lilac-misted under a first-quarter moon,
The sweet smells of heliotrope and night-scented stock.
The garden is very still,
It is dazed with moonlight,
Contented with perfume,
Dreaming the opium dreams of its folded poppies.
Firefly lights open and vanish
High as the tip buds of the golden glow
Low as the sweet alyssum flowers at my feet.
Moon-shimmer on leaves and trellises,
Moon-spikes shafting through the snowball bush.
Only the little faces of the ladies' delight are alert and staring,
Only the cat, padding between the roses,
Shakes a branch and breaks the chequered pattern
As water is broken by the falling of a leaf.
Then you come,
And you are quiet like the garden,
And white like the alyssum flowers,
And beautiful as the silent sparks of the fireflies.
Ah, Beloved, do you see those orange lilies?
They knew my mother,
But who belonging to me will they know
When I am gone.

Amy Lowell

Bye for now,
Happy Gardening,



Pamela Terry and Edward said...

What a delightful post, right down to the bottom of the poem. I find that I'm such a hit and miss gardener. I'm so gung ho at the beginning of the season, when the spring weather is so salubrious and the breezes are blowing. I can be in the garden all day, happy as a clam. And then, we get summer. The heat and humidity just do me in. I run out after dark to water the plants that are limp, and then I run back in. I find that I do a lot of hoping for rainy days!!


Cait, I always find your words so soothing and uplifting, thanks for sharing. Happy gardening :) TFx

mollygolver said...

Cait - I loved every bit of your blog and can identify with it. I don't mind weeding too much as it's nice to see the garden get tidier and the pile of weeds get higher. I love your poem. BTW how/when do you get in housework mode? still looking for the answer :>)

jane said...

Great blog - I find gardening so relaxing - fiddle to the housework -my dog also always gives a big sigh of content and settles down by the green house door ready for a snooze - love the poem and I caught a breath of that fresh welsh air

Aunt Amelia's Attic said...

Oh what a beautiful poem! -happy sigh-

And thank you for liking my pic of the bunny in the garden. I just loved it, that I was set to take a picture of the Foxglove! And so got the picture of the bunny, when he hopped into view.

If not focused, I'd not have gotten his pic. :-) Love it! :-)

Vee said...

Lovely poem, but your discussion of your own garden is most delightful. I will look for the photos when you have the chance. Funny, we had one of those misty rains last evening when we all sat on the deck. It was over in a few minutes and the drops were dry in another few minutes, but it was enough to cool us. Cupcakes are not "a thing" there? They are so easy to bake and easier to serve and eat than cake. Thanks for your visit, Cait!

Frances said...

Cait, this post is a gem, and shows just how much a garden can give and how much a gardener can give, and how the balance between them is rich.

Your writing always delight me, showing me many parts of life that are familiar to me, and also taking me to new places.


Rob-bear said...

Wow! What an amazing post.

OK, I'm convinced. You can come and be my gardener. I'll show you the back yard, and let you go to it. Right?

Not sure about a white cat, though, even a poetic one. Depends on how well your cat can get along with my big black Poodle! A cat and a dog, "working" together, could level the place in no time flat. (Come to think of it, the garden would be flat in no time at all, with them chasing each other everywhere!)

ds said...

Lovely. Gardening is a relax and a release, even when done in pots on a deck! Thanks for sharing this.

Faith said...

Lovely poem Cait, I will copy and paste to my sister - a garden and cat lover. We have stopped our gardener this year and have been doing more gardening - it's a good hobby for a couple to do together - working in harmony, and with the garden. Take care, Faith x

Pondside said...

Good morning, Cait. You and I share many similarities in our approach to gardening. It is, for me too, a meditative experience - and don't mean that it is some sort of high falutin' esoteric experience....just that it allows me to empty my mind of all the monkey business and to focus in a way that really brings me peace.
Lovely post.

Debs said...

Your garden sounds idyllic.

I love gardening, and find it very therapeutic. Weeding, boring though it is, does help my mind wander and sometimes I even come up with useful ideas for writing.

Chris Stovell said...

So sorry to have been such an infrequent visitor; it's just that I'm on a deadline and have little time to come up for air. Coming here today shows me what I've been missing, it's so beautiful here!

Friko said...

Like you I am grounded by gardening. Gardening, poetry and walking in the country, what more could anyone need or want.

Nan said...

That was really lovely - slow and reflective just like your time in the garden. I love how the British refer to 'garden' as all the land around them. I have taken to doing this myself.

Cait, I just read and published your comment on the AMS books, but it didn't show up. I might have hit the wrong button. If you will bother to write again, I think readers might be interested. I was stunned. So infrequently does anyone think as I do about books. :<)

Elizabethd said...

Cait, thank you for your visits to Brittany, it's nice to see you again.
You share so many of my feelings about gardening. It is a creative outlet in one's can also be a chore especially when the weeds grow faster than the flowers!
But I couldnt bear to be without my garden.

gaelikaa said...

What a beautiful post. Not to mention that poem which was a feast for the senses. I'm back after a long time and I also like your new design.

I think you're awakening my interest in gardening. Your description of British Isles weather had me fairly homesick there for a few minutes. But it was a nice feeling.

Exmoorjane said...

Ah Cait - I must get back to gardening proper - as opposed to tugging haplessly at ground elder. All more difficult by the arrival of the new pup who thinks his job is to sit on geraniums and eat heathers... *sigh*
I agree with Tom Foolery - your words ARE always soothing and uplifting. CHecking out your book list now... :)

Bee said...

I have a black and white cat who loves to lounge underneath the shrubs during these hot days.

Beautiful post, Cait. You have expressed, so well, the very things that I love about gardening . . . although I will admit that I love BUYING PLANTS the very best of all.

Ruth said...

I end this feeling encouraged to spend more time outside, in our garden, when it stops being so blasted hot.

Lovely post. I look forward to photos.

Marcheline said...

Excellent! Send some of that cooling rain over here to us sweltering gardeners in New York! I would happily roll naked on the lawn if we could get some weather like that.

Now the neighbors are praying it won't rain - ha!

CAMILLA said...

Such a wonderful post Cait, you always write so beautifully.

Gardening gives us so much pleasure, very theraputic too.

Loved the Poem about the Cat, used to own a white Cat, she was so affectionate with softest gorgeous fur.

Happy Gardening Cait.!