Summer seems to have come a month early this year. I’ve abandoned my shoes and the dust will have to settle in the house while I disappear outside.
Some think gardening is for the retired or those with nothing better to do but I come from a long line of gardeners and have been messing about outside for years. When I was very young and living in London, mum gave me my own small patch to tend. I liked to rescue daisies from the grass or dig holes to hang my feet in and what joy to discover a perfect, round pebble. Somewhere on my bookcase was a story about a magic round pebble.
My garden now is considerably larger. The soil is light and easy to turn, easy to germinate seeds but very hard work when it comes to growing nutrient hungry, delicate plants or vegetables that don’t appreciate growing in desert conditions – especially when we have a hosepipe ban, as they are promising this year. Climate change is ever challenging but I’ve learnt over the years not to fight the conditions and homemade compost is pure gold. I do still find treasures; brass buttons from a World War One greatcoat, a Victorian tie pin, lots of assorted broken pottery and even the occasional round pebble.
The garden provides me with a workout on a par with Tai Chi, meditation or a long walk and when I have problems I cannot solve and need to clear my head, it has become my respite. I recommend it. If I ever have to give it up, I will need a balcony with a view and room for a few potted plants but hopefully it’ll never come to that.
While walking the dog during one of our recent hot summers, I came across someone who thought it was more important to keep his lawn greener than the dry straw fields around his property. I hope it won’t be so bad this year but whatever happens, I shall disappear to the bottom of the garden with pen and paper and a good book.
Shaded by the tree, he watches
water spray his private emerald ocean.
His cool oasis in the drought –
witness to his selfish action.
I grieve my shrivelling,
withering patch of thatch,
with stretch of sisal matting,
edged by death on stems –
prisoners of their footing.
Silent screams fill the air –
denied the food of life,
while teasing ‘can reminds of rain
but cannot quench their thirst.
Will rescue come too late
when summer’s seared flesh
slips bleached bone
to jaws of early autumn?
It’s hard to watch the dying soul
of any tended garden,
but at least my desert
will return to green,
and hunger’s not my problem.