Tuesday, 13 May 2008

My Garden Path

I've been thinking recently, while my life has taken on such a slow pace as to almost have stopped, why I've got so into gardening.

Every year, at about this time, I've tried growing things and the passion usually lasts until I go on holiday or Autumn arrives. It's obvious this seed of interest has lain, mostly dormant, in me for many years.

But this year something extra has happened to kick-start it earlier and more strongly. It helps that the baby days are behind me, the exhaustion's not so acute and snatches of time can be found in the day so I have the energy to think of other things.

It is more than that though. It's the creative need in me, unleashed since I have stopped creating children, that has surprised me and this thirst is quenched mostly through gardening and partly through this blog.

Since I've become a 'grower' - gardener has connotations of knowledge, of which I possess little - I've noticed the world is divided into Those Who Dig and Those Who Don't. But what makes those people not garden, I wonder, as I pass by sad pots needing flowers or hanging baskets swinging emptily.

I guess those people, and I was once among them, would cite Time as their chief enemy, the robber of hobbies and passions. But, I want to shout, you don't need much time! It takes next to no time to open a pack of seeds, place in a pot of compost, cover and water. Space might also be an issue but I'd hope that even if I lived in a high-rise flat a couple of pots of herbs might find themselves on my kitchen windowsill.

Crazily, I've been thinking how marvellous it would be if at the six week check all new mums were given a growing kit with all the necessaries plus a packet of sunflowers, herbs or carrot seeds. The meditative effect of sowing seeds, the couple of minutes' time-out from dirty nappies, laundry or feeds would have done me the power of good, I reckon. It's also guilt-free time, making food for our young or just their world a more beautiful place.

As I pass wonderful, lush gardens, read books, watch Gardeners' World or catch up on blogs, I wonder if others' paths to their gardening passion took the same route or if it was more direct, more natural or just different.


  1. Hi - I have always had a love of plants since a child but I didnt really start developing my passion until I had children. I think I had more time as I wasnt working when they were little, also I went through a messy divorce when they were toddlers and gardening helped me destress and was soothing. Now they are teenagers and need me less I have more and more time. I have joined a gardening club and my addiction to growing things from seed and cuttings gets worse (or better!) each year

  2. Hi, you didnt mention lack of funds, my passion grew when we purchased our first house and had little money left for anything else, I started collecting cuttings and growing seeds. although i took no notice of the garden of my childhood, i probably now could name every plant, maybe its something youre born with, just waiting for the right time to break out. Im interested to know why you have a plot, in Australia we grow everything in our yards, inner city have plots only because they live in flats. it just seems weird to go somewhere else to garden. but if its a break from the kids your after i understand completely.

  3. Hi Stacey, you're rigt about money. I know from experience that if ther's no spare money it doesn't matter how cheap a packet of seeds are. That's where generous gardeners with too many tomato plants come in I guess....

    Interesting question about the allotment. We've had one for four or five years (before the current fad for them anyway)and it's a way to grow more veggies than I could at home.

    We've got a garden at home but it's not huge and with five children it feels really small so I don't think I'd be able to fit any veggie beds in. Have thought about it but the allotment is in such a beautiful place, really soul soothing. And yes, it can be, occasionally, time on my own!

    Thanks for your comments, really thought provoking.

  4. Helen, I do think the calming aspect of gardening is what draws people in, just when you need it.

    I'm interested in your gardening club - what sort of things do you do? I think we have one here (horticultural society?) but they all seem like experts whereas I am still very green!

  5. I was sort of born into gardening, with parents and grandparents who had beautiful gardens for me to play in. But, I wasn't *really* able to get into it until the last couple years, with our own home and enough money in the budget to buy some plants and equipment.

    Our first home had a large flower bed in front and the yard was fenced. I often worked out there with a baby napping in the car seat and a toddler mucking about in the yard with me.

    I have so much more energy now that the kids are older (my "baby" is starting kindergarten this year.sigh) so I'm definitely getting more done. My children also push me to try new things because *they* want to be involved. This year they'll each have their own little vegetable garden.

    The need to immerse myself in my creative pursuits is very strong, much stronger than before I had children. Gardening is my main obsession during our short growing season.