2 March 2014

Tiptoeing through the bluebells

Me and Mom in 2002 before she got ill
I've spent the last three days in the garden. Yes, even today when it rained or drizzled for the majority of the time I was out there having great fun with the pressure washer. My greenhouse is now pristine.

Taking things very gently, careful not to overexert myself I've planted lots of seeds in trays, toilet rolls and pots in the greenhouse; from cayenne peppers to sweet peppers, from leeks to spring onions and from sweet peas to pumpkins. Preparation of two flower beds underneath the many shrubs went well and lots of summer bulbs were set and many more seeds sewn for flowers with the intention of attracting bees and butterflies. I've even made a start on the patio tubs for the summer. There's still an awful lot to do but I'm happy with my achievements over the three days.

Working in the garden always brings me closer to my Mom. It will be three years since she left us later this month. Like this last one, the winter that preceded her death was exceptionally mild and the day she died was a glorious sun filled warm spring day, the sort that heralds the arrival of the warmer seasons with a huge orchestra playing the 1812 Overture, the sort of day she loved. The daffodils in her garden were at their best, strong, tall, golden, shimmering in the sun. It looks as though this year the sunshine yellow daffodils will once again be in full bloom on the first day of spring, the third anniversary of her departure.They had been well tended over the years, originally by herself and then later by a gardener whom she watched and instructed so that her garden was just so.

Me and Mom are different types of gardener. She liked order and neatness whereas I love riots and wildness. She would do a little every day, I tend to have periods of benign neglect to be followed with a frenzy of activity because I've left the weeds in the vegetable plots too long and they're strangling my veg. Mom took care of her lawn, dandelions and daisies that had the audacity to take root on the hallowed turf were ruthlessly slashed, rooted out and burnt. I now have very little grass left after the latest improvements and I rather like the moss, daises and forget-me-nots that have rooted because they cover up the bare bits that have developed because of my neglect.

When I consider our differences as a gardener I always want to apologise to Mom for not respecting and upholding her order and neatness. I'm not sure that she ever understood why I leave things to seed and don't pull out self-sewn flowers but I love the uncertainty of where something may pop again in years to come, like shadows of former years reaching out to touch once again. I want to think that she understood that my rebellious nature meant that I was never going to garden in the same way as she did. One thing I do know she understood was how my love for nature, for gardening and for cultivating has grown over the years. She planted the seeds of love within me when as a small child she would name all the flowers, cultivated or wild (read weeds rather than wild if you're like my Mom) and trees and sometimes tell me short stories of where she had first seen that particular plant. She waited a long time for the seeds she had sewn to develop and mature but I am so glad that she gave me that gift; the gift of seeing the beauty of small and simple things like a petal or a leaf. Thank you Mom.

As I've worked these last three days I've had a lot of conversations inside my head with Mom as I always do when working in the garden. I told her of things that should never have been left unsaid whilst she was alive and reflected upon times when we visited places together that blossomed with the loveliness of Mother Nature. I remember that one of the last proper conversations that I had with her was about how the bluebells in Cuckoos Nook were well advanced and that I thought they would bloom in April, so I wanted her to get well so that we could go dancing amongst them. It was a joke of course, Mom's dancing days were well gone by then but it amused her all the same and she smiled and said I could do the dancing for the both of us. A few days later she was gone but when the bluebells bloomed I did go dancing alone in the ancient woodland and felt her presence.