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A Thursday Afternoon
We finally had a break in the weather so we all (dogs and human) went outside. The dogs investigated all the nooks of the garden that had been unattended for days due to the weather. I image it was a cornucopia of smells and stories for them. Me, I pick up cabbage tree leaves. Begrudgingly I might add. There were a lot. The wind had scattered them around the garden. There are too many to count. I spend about half an hour pottering around collecting a handful, tying them together, adding them to a pile. The pile grew steadily. Eos thinks it is hilarious to steal one. She tends to do this a lot when I am gardening, steal things. Pots are fine. She tosses them in the air in a very sweet way. When she steals my weeding bucket it and up ends it is it less cute.
As the afternoon unfolded the quiet methodology of working outside, in a hint of sun after days of rain begins to soothe me. I felt less fraught about the cabbage tree leaves and find rhythm in the work. My mind wanders to the ideas and the construction of what it means to have a tidy garden and why it is so herald. I call myself a quiet rebel in the garden on this front preferring to embrace the natural look. I guess this idea includes cabbage tree leaves. Embracing a natural look is a conscious decision, as I, like so many of us, are conditioned to what a garden should look like. The lawn, designated spaces for this or that. As erratic weather become more frequent, I feel gardening will change and so to will our perception of neatness.
So as I embrace the mess, the joy of work, the sun, I tell myself the cabbage trees are part of the garden, part of my little garden community. As I pick the fronds up I remember the sparrows who nest in the cabbage tree in the spring and then grow up in our garden over the summer. They provide a lot of delight. On a cold winters day I recall the memory of lying on the bed in the summer evenings listening to the sparrows squabble as the day ends.
While picking up the cabbage tree fronds I am accompanied by the resident piwakawaka or fantail who must have missed us with all the bad weather as they are rather confident around us. It flits around the garden, low enough that Atlee thought he was in with a chance of catching it. I can safely say the piwakawaka was in no danger. I chuckled as I watched. Anything that was upright near to where you stand becomes a resting place for the little bird. The garden chairs. The poles for holding up various plants that stand bare now that said plants have died down for the winter. The little bird chattered and danced round the garden I think in a weird way reflecting the joy all of us was feeling at being in the garden again.
After my tidying duties are finished I start a spot of weeding. With so much rain weeding is easy. I remind myself it is a chance to tackle those lovely weeds which have the long tap roots, with the soil being so soft. I work away, the weed bucking filling. Little dog is warned not to touch it as I spy her out the corner of my eye sneaking up to steal my weeding bucket.
As I weed I find seedlings. Little seedlings that are so little. So little I am not sure if they are new treasures to delight in or more weeds. I hope they are the dark crimson poppies I grew for the first time last year or perhaps just a red poppy. I spy blue cornflowers seedlings which are taking over a flower bed. They can do as they wish as they are a firm bee favourite. Clumps of foxgloves appear in places that are new to me but make sense. For me foxgloves are the best garden designers. They seem to know the perfect spot to grow and I admire their stubbornness in growing in cracks or corners that to me seem impossible to grow in. I spend time gingerly removing teasel seedlings that seem to be everywhere in the garden. I leave a few for the bees and make a note to myself to trim back the flower heads once the nectar is finished. I like their presences but I’m not interested in a monopoly. Teasel seedlings have also grown in weird some places (a crack in the brick BBQ) and I leave a few. I am curious to see what will happen.
Finally I trot down to the bottom of the garden where the hellebores are flowering. A beautiful range of colours, soft and deep pink, a few white. I had been reading Alice Vincent “Rootbound, rewilding a life’ and she talked about how hard it is for a hellebore to remain true. It desires to change and evolve, to be many things. I hope I get seedlings this year and then I wonder what they will look like. Cross pollination creates endless curiosities, that is something I love about nature. I can wait to see what comes of this corner of the garden as spring unfolds.
The afternoon unfolds and I feel warm from my activity. It feels good to be moving the body. A constant phrase from the gym instructor - bodies are made for moving. Mine hasn’t been moving enough lately and it feels good to be moving again. The break in the weather has given a moment of encouragment to suggest what is to come. The budding daffidols also hint of future magic.
And then it was time for a cup of tea.
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