Looking back, I think before I had children I was a bit of a black and white kind of person, though I would have fervently denied that at the time. Having children has completely changed my entire view on the world, everything changed. I am now very aware of the huge, beautiful, inspiring and terrifying range of greys that there are out there. I am still a passionate (my mother and husband would probably say dogmatic) believer in particular ideas and values, but at least I can see the grey a little more now.
Starting a garden has, I think, been another massive shift on my world view. It really has opened my eyes to the magnificent colour of the world. It has made me much more aware of the passing of the seasons, of the ebb and flow of life as things bloom and fade and are regenerated. It makes me aware of the weather and the value of each of them, the cold that kills the pests, the sun which creates the energy for growth and the rain which rejuvenates. Trying to use only water from our rainwater butts through a particularly hot, dry, Cornish summer left me grateful for a rain in a way I had never been before. It has helped me gain more perspective about my place in the world, and hopefully a little more respectful of that.
Children are another great giver of perspective, and are experts at placing you within a long timeline that goes through your parents and grandparents, and will continue through them into the future, potentially grandchildren and onwards. I am really hoping to pass on, if not a desire to garden, then at the least an interest and respect for the natural world around us. I hope that by spending lots of time in the wild themselves, the beaches, cliffs, and woods that surround us, that it will become a part of them. I hope that even if they lose sight of it as they grow then that seed will re-emerge, as it did with me, as they become adults themselves. I hope that ‘helping’ me to grow our own foods, and plants that help nurture the wildlife around us, they learn important lessons about life itself.
Our front garden project is nearing completion, and we are getting to the point where I just need to be patient and wait for the seeds to grow and the flowers to bloom. Not overly good at being patient, but I’ll try.
I had never really thought of transforming our front garden space so radically until very recently, and it has been an interesting experience. There is something very public about front gardens. It is the welcoming face which your house presents to the world. I have deliberately used very low borders to demarcate the space from the pavement, so that it feels open and welcoming rather than a very private space.
It has been remarkable the number of comments and conversations that it has started. With people who may have been our neighbours for years, but who have never spoken with us before. I love standing in the kitchen, (maybe doing the washing up, but if I’m honest more likely just drinking a cup of tea) and watching people stop, just for a moment, and look.
My husband commented that he had started looking at other people’s front gardens, something he had never done before. He had started noticing the plants and considering what he likes. I have become super-nosey, taking a good peek in every garden I pass now, seeing what’s got bees on, occasionally taking a photo so I can identify something particularly beautiful once I get home. Even my daughter has started pointing out flowers in people’s gardens on the school run, it makes my mornings! My mother took nosiness to a whole new level, and on walks around our town as a child, she would carry tiny clippers in her handbag, and if there was anything particularly beautiful, in reach of the pavement, she would take the tiniest cutting with her clippers, then go home and plant it!! I haven’t reached those depths yet, but who knows, I am growing more like her every day it seems.
I am enjoying my eyes open view on the world around me now, watching the seasons change, the wildflowers on the roadsides, and the front garden faces to the houses I pass. I am liking the connection to the natural world, and I am now finding the human world of my neighbours as well. Who knew that picking up a trowel could change me so much?