So here it is.
My very first post.
The title is gloriously stolen from one of my all time favourite books ever; ‘We Made A Garden’ by Margery Fish. This wonderful slice of acid, written in 1956 is a tale of how she and her husband Walter moved from London during the war to a farmhouse in Somerset and…made a garden. He liked lawns and neat things and she liked plants and shapes and curious corners. It is apparently a book about gardens but really it is a book about warfare in marriage and contains little gems in which she steals the horse manure from his roses.
It is one of the funniest books I’ve ever read and makes me ‘sqeeeeee’ with delight in that way you did when your Grannie told a rude (ish) joke at some poor unfortunate’s expense.
The moment we set eyes on our house near the coast in mid West Wales and its massive, wild, untamed garden I knew I wanted to write about my relationship with it (because it sure as shit wasn’t going to be an easy one). We have been here three and a half years now. When we arrived we had a one year old girl baby and a tiny seed of a boy in my belly. I thought that I would be able to garden. The baby would lie in a carrycot, gazing up at the sun through the boughs of the apple tree, forming beautiful memories that would surely provide the imaginative ballast for the rest of his life. The girl would scamper about making mud pies and dens and befriending foxes and singing with wrens. It would be amazing. My mum had done it. My brother had sat in the moses basket and I had played in the ferns while she gardened in a beautiful faded 70’s sun dress and was sultry. That was going to be me.
Unfortunately when I showed Mum the garden she looked rather dismayed at the size. Wondered how I was going to handle it with two very small children. Apparently the Devon garden I remember as being immense was actually really quite small and even then it was a massive pain in the arse trying to gain the freedom to work in it…
I was undeterred and off we went. I picked weeds out of the paths and wondered to myself how the previous owners (an amazing couple in their late sixties who were full time granparents to 4 children) could have let it get into such a state…
Fast forward three and a half years and you cant see the paths anymore. There are ONLY weeds. For the last two years it has been a scene from sleeping beauty; a thicket of thorns and nettles from which the children are banned because they get stung or scratched at every turn.
But. Two months ago my Dad died very suddenly while out walking. And I found myself out in the february sunshine, obsessively uncovering huge lacy networks of nettles, ripping out brambles, scratching at ivy. Every time my heart felt like it would burst I bunged on a DVD for the kids and hared outside to get scratched and scraped and sweat and hurt until it didn’t hurt anymore. Two months in and I’ve cleared about a quarter of the garden. And sometimes the kids actually come outside and play and don’t fight and do make dens and it IS amazing.
So my hope is that this will be a record of redemption and how in all our ignorance, hopefully one day I will look back and say ‘wow, we actually made a garden!’. There might be bits about grief, or memory, or family, or nature, or healing. There will probably be some stuff about plants too.