The weekend just gone marked the end of my lease at the House of the Gumtrees and I spent most of it tidying up the gardens, despite the inclement weather. I’d waited til the last moment to do it, resisting the reality of abandoning my lovely little garden.
Still, waiting for the colder weather made the emotional work easier, if not the physical. A sudden cold snap had finished off the last of the summer’s veggies that had been struggling on. The chilly weather also made shovelling out the compost bin a much less unpleasant task! Yes, I dug out my compost bin in the sleet and took the lovely mess with me, sleepy worms and all.
I had to remove the bin anyway, thus needed somewhere to put the contents. Musing on the quandary with a neighbour a few weeks previously, her dad – a fellow keen gardener – interjected to say he couldn’t understand the problem, of course I’d be taking my compost with me! So I bought a plastic garbage bin and shovelled it all in, locked the lid on tight and threw it in the back of my little car and drove across town. Now it’s sitting in a corner in the back yard waiting for me to dig a new bin in and get the process started all over again.
It was nice to see how well the compost was progressing and to marvel at the numbers of worms working hard at turning my scraps into soil. When I moved in to the place 2.5 years ago there wasn’t a single worm to be found anywhere in the garden, yet somehow they found their way: little red wrigglers writhing in the compost and big fat crawlers deeper in the garden soil. During my diggings (transplanting self-seeded annuals to tidy the beds) I also found some lovely fat grubs and scuttling beetles: signs of healthy, living soil.
I made this garden.
It’s the first serious go I’ve had at growing things. I’ve always had a collection of herbs everywhere I’ve lived, plus the occasional tomato plant and chilli, but here I gardened properly for the first time, learning about growing things in the strange cool climate. I planted bulbs for the first time and was rewarded with the splendid spectacle of spring blossoms. I got serious about tomatoes, as you can see! I went a bit bonkers for brassicas, growing broccoli (purple-sprouting and romanesco), kale (cavalo nero and frilly) and tatsoi. I experimented with edible natives (thanks to the wonderful Provenance Growers) and indulged my love of herbs.
One reckless day I came home with a raspberry cane and sweet dreams of summer. I picked my first meagre harvest last summer, but dug the now-much-larger canes up on Saturday and took them with me. They’ll go into the ground here this weekend, helped along by a heaping of that lovely compost, and hopefully I’ll be rewarded with a bigger harvest this coming summer.
For once I had the space to dedicate a little soil to frivolous pretty things, planting a cheery blanket of violas that renewed itself each spring (and hey, the flowers are edible!), though I did claw back some space from the ever-spreading seaside daisy I inherited. I waged an unending war with the arum lilies and went into chemical-free battle against an army of snails.
On summer mornings and evenings I’d sit out on the little deck, soaking up the sun and watching life buzz around me in my own little haven. Many days I’d come home from work, drop off my things and head straight out there to pick some fresh herbs or veg for that night’s dinner and I swear nothing tastes sweeter than what you’ve grown yourself.
I made this garden, but it’s mine no longer. Now I have a new neglected patch of hardened and compacted dirt to turn into something special. It’s going to take a lot of time and hard work, but at least I can choose not to work in the sleet!
For now the new garden lies unrealised, quietly dreaming of spring.