It’s June, and as you’ll have read in my previous post, that means I’m sticking to my tradition of celebrating ’30 Days Wild’, along with many others.
Since having children, one of my favourite places to go is RHS Rosemoor. In every season, this place is beautiful and fragrant, full of flowers, herbs and trees. On most of our visits, we follow much the same route: straight to the sandpit (shaded with pine trees), then we wander through the woodland play area with its growing teepee and faster-than-fast bullet slide, past the stream and waterfall, alongside a meadow and into the other play area, complete with pirate ship and spinning see saw. There are bees, butterflies, birds: the place is carefully tended and cultivated to invite the wild and natural. There are colours, textures, sound.
Every time we go, I feel all of us breathe again, the children and me. Whatever we’ve been doing or feeling beforehand, walking and playing in these gardens frees us, bonds us and heals us.
Lately, we’ve been tending our own garden, too. Soil under fingernails, sun on skin, water splashing from a spout. There’s all this growth at the moment: lavender out after a long wait; yellow roses and peachy buds; the fairy tale curl of vine tendrils; apples forming in abundant clusters; scented mint and rosemary and sweet, bright flowers planted by small hands. The strawberries and raspberries are coming along too and that familiar tomato smell is beginning to inhabit the greenhouse. The children water sporadically yet enthusiastically, with some plants getting whole canfuls and others the merest trickle, but we’re still rewarded with colour and life and flavour for our efforts. Being outside lends us more joy, more peace, more fun. It’s the best headache remedy. Our version of gardening is happy-go-lucky, with the emphasis on happy. We’ve got a lot of wild patches and things get planted and cut and tended as and when. We play a lot, rest a lot, and also notice a lot: ladybirds, blue tits, wild strawberries and dandelions are among the things counted as noteworthy and joyous.
Growing a garden is a hopeful, homely and spiritual thing. In bedding in roots, we claim little patches of earth for the long term. We invest in future seasons. When we plant, we hope for what we can only as yet imagine. I remember the first year we put the apple tree in, and when the lavender plants looked small and sparse. The raspberry bushes were on offer when we bought them because they looked like they’d all but died. Last year there were a few berries and this year there’s an abundance. It’s all deeply fulfilling.
Of course, I’m not the first or the last person to enjoy a garden or to write about one: from the sheer excitement, purity and strangeness of the Garden of Eden, to the sweet story of The Secret Garden and the abundance of Tolkien’s Shire. And recently, I’ve been nourished by Cultivate, by Lara Casey. It’s all about cultivating a garden and a life and I found it challenged me in the most tender way. It got me reflecting on the kind of life I want to nurture in myself and my family.
What are you growing this year? If you haven’t already, can you make space in your week to get outside?