The garden. My haven. My plot of land. Away from the dust, away from the chaos. Away from the power tools, the cracks, the stains, spills and smells.
My escape. My fresh air. My convene with nature.
When we first saw number 26, back in the summer of 2014, the garden was bursting with life. It was completely overgrown with big leafy trees taking pride of place and arching over to build an emerald tunnel drawing you deep into the wilderness towards the “bottom of the garden”. This was a place of fairy-tales. Birds would dart between branches, and as I picked my way over the undulating soft earth and ducking under branches, I felt like an Explorer charting new territory. My territory.
Of course as soon as we moved in, late in Autumn, the garden was telling a new tale. The leaves had fallen, the colour changed to brown, and the magic of fairy-tales quickly gave way to the practicalities of reality. The tree branches were encroaching on our neighbours space, blocking their light and lounging heavily on their fences. We can’t see the roots but they are undoubtedly tickling our house’s foundations, ready to play havoc with any extending we want to do. And the garden rubbish, something I hadn’t seen before as it was swept up in the creepers and leaves and general greenery, was now fully in view, random old bits of bird feeders, a washing line post, hundreds of cracked pots, an old Victorian bath and sink, plant labels, and random garden decorations, broken and scattered all around.
And so began the transformation of our garden. We had to bring down two of the biggest trees, and started to clear the rubbish. Collecting all the small logs for our fire, putting them in the flower pots. Salvaging any plants we could find and repotting for our temporary patio. Digging up and collecting a large amount of “crock” which seems to be randomly buried in our garden.
The garden did transform, almost overnight, from the wild, overgrown fairy-tale garden, into something largely resembling a waste ground. But it’s progress. I know one day it will be restored again. We have to work the land over in order that new life can find a way.
And right now it’s at the archaeological dig stage. I’m uncovering a former version of the garden. From a plaque lying beneath the earth (pet cemetery or decorative?), to the gradual revealing of a central garden path. I’m forking over all sorts of weird and wonderful treasures, from plastic bags to metal poles, to snowdrop bulbs to fat juicy earthworms.
Getting into the garden is getting out in the open. Breathing in the cold air, turning my face to the bright sky overhead. The birds are still here, darting from naked branch to naked branch. They haven’t left. A full sensory experience, with the sights and the sounds and the smell of fresh earth, being 100% in the moment. As I rake the ground and kick my shovel into the earth, waiting to see what it hits next, I am once again that Explorer, looking back in time to imagine what was, and looking forward to get excited about what will be…