Sunday, 2 October 2011

A man's life is reflected in

his garden. Yesterday's birthday party was held in a back garden. It belongs to the man who was celebrating his 80th. He is a "retired" priest - only priests never seem to retire. He, and his wife, are still involved in many things. They know they are fortunate to have the physical and mental capacity to be involved and they make the most of it. They also know how to make the most of their surroundings.
Their garden, mostly his work, is a work of art. It is also productive. There are vegetable patches. There are fruit trees. There are flowers. Herbs - rosemary, sage, thyme, parsley, chives and others appear in between other plants. There are plants in pots. The side of the garage is a mass of sweet peas at present. Two enormous rainwater tanks collect the roof water and maintain the garden throughout the summer.
Yes, they do spend a lot of time there - but they also find time for other things. I thought of that as people wandered around the garden, chatted and exclaimed over things they had found. I also thought of the other gardens along the route I had pedalled to get there.
It is my regular pedalling route and I think the gardens reflect their owners. Ours is fairly tidy at the front - a small patch of lawn, the rosebushes my mother planted, the lavender I planted because it brings the bees to the garden, the side patch where the bluebells come up unassisted each year, the peach tree and the orange tree and the lemon verbena bush. Around the side there are more fruit trees and my father's attempts to grow things in tubs, lettuce, shallots (spring onions), beetroot, a struggling rhubarb plant, the almost empty row where the carrots were planted. There is a huge carrot plant by the tank. It reaches well above my waist. Yes, it may go to seed and we may have seeds but I doubt it. There are three tubs of parsley, the winter tomatoes, broad beans, stocks, more lavender, spinach, courgettes (zucchini) and capsicum before you reach the plum and apricot trees at the back. It is all, like the house, rather untidy. It is productive. The garden shed is untidy. My father's shed is untidy. We are not tidy people.
There is one other rather untidy but highly productive garden on my pedalling route. It belongs to a man who was a landscape designer. He likes his garden the way it is too. Most of the other gardens are patches of lawn, a few shrubs, a rosebush or two. They are neat enough but their owners are not, by their own admission, interested in gardening. One house on a corner is an exception. That garden is rather like ours, untidy but productive. The owners, two men I know well enough to pass the time of day with, lead untidy but productive lives in other ways. They also find time to be good neighbours.
There is one other interesting garden before you reach the home of the priest. It is across the street from his home. It is another one of those gardens with unexpected plants in unexpected places, one of those "planned but unplanned" gardens that look right. The owners are good friends of the priest and his wife.
I am no gardener. The garden is one of my father's interests. I do not interfere - even when he plants far more of one thing than we can hope to use or give away. But, if I had my own place, I would want more than a patch of lawn and a rosebush. It would not be tidy. It would have variety. It would be like my life.


widdershins said...

Untidy gardens are the most fun too!

Wendy Iredale said...

That people's gardens are like their lives is a very interesting thought, and one that had not occurred to me before I like it very much!

jeanfromcornwall said...

This is the same principle that says that "boring cooks have tidy kitchens"

catdownunder said...

Someone else has just told me it is a ridiculous idea. I am glad some people agree with me!

nicobulus said...

i love our untidy back garden - it's full of amazing wild life and lots of bees. however our front yard is a tidy piece of lawn with a rosebush climbing the wall. What does this say?

catdownunder said...

I am not sure - except that I think I would like the back better than the front!