I have just spent the majority of the morning in the garden. As I choose to say, I’ve been ‘putting my garden to bed’ for the Winter. I cleared out my hanging baskets. Cut back the ivy that explodes out of them all Summer. Put some bulbs in ready for Spring and put the last remnants of the pumpkins on the soil to break down the clay. That’s it now for another year. Many of the bushes are now devoid of leaves. The blooms on the roses have ceased. My Virginia Creeper that masks so beautifully the greyness of the back fence, is now just a mass of empty branches. There are leaves all over the grass and I even found some weird mushrooms growing on the lawn.
I find this time incredibly sad. For much of the year, my garden is an extra room in the house. We sit outside a great deal in the Spring and Summer and we love to see every single plant and flower grow. Now there is very little of interest apart from our Norwegian spruce tree, which has really shot up this year and will soon be taller than all of us. We shall be covering it in lights this year to celebrate Christmas.
I rely on my garden for my mental and physical well-being. I enjoy nothing more than going into my garden and having a great potter whilst listening to Radio 4. This morning was no exception. My window cleaner called in and saw me at work and said to me, ‘Should you really be doing all that lifting?’ I always work up quite a sweat and it is not long before I am able to remove my coat. My cats follow me everywhere and they enjoy being in the garden with me. When I cut the pampas grass down, Mittens loves playing with the bits of stray plume. Our garden is on a slope and the earth is mainly clay and so in the Winter it is impossible to walk down to the bottom as it becomes like ice underfoot. Last year I had quite a spectacular fall. My husband bought me some spikes to put on my boots but I find them incredibly uncomfortable to wear.
It’s ten to three now and it is almost dark. The nights of sitting in the garden until it turned dark after ten, seem a lifetime ago now, along with that glorious, long, hot Summer when we were desperate for just a drop of rain.
Yet, it is in spending the next few months away from my garden that means that when February and March come, I am eager to get back into it as soon as possible. For it is really only when we miss something, that we truly appreciate it. When I think of my garden I often think of the song ‘Turn. Turn. Turn.’ by The Byrds that my brother used to play a lot and which is taken from the Bible. In particular the lines:
There is a season
And a time to every purpose under heaven
A time to be born, a time to die
A time to plant, a time to reap
A time to kill, a time to heal
A time to laugh, a time to weep.
In the winter, plants rest and live off stored food until spring. Some shed their leaves and grow new ones. Winter is very much a reminder that just as plants need to slow down and store energy, then we should learn to take a break too. So that is why it is important to value each season. I always think there is something quite lovely about long Winter nights huddled in front of the fire by candle-light, drinking hot chocolate or soup and keeping warm. And then when Spring returns, the novelty of Winter is long gone and at last it is time to get back in the garden again and see what delights Nature has in store.
I’m really going to miss my garden for the next few months.