Memoir of a Garden: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow…
Once upon a time there was a girl who tried to grow things. First she tried seeds, but they didn’t grow very well. Then she tried a few basic herbs and had more luck. Those first few little attempts then became bigger and bolder as the years went on, from a couple of pots, to a small area of the rented backyard turning into a garden, to both pots and gardens popping up wherever they found a space! Each new garden taught her something new, and added more fuel to the hobby that was somehow turning her a little bit green…
She dreamed of owning her own patch of land where she could have the garden of her dreams. She vowed she would work hard at it and let it grow, little by little. It wouldn’t be a landscaped masterpiece as much as a family inspired mish mash of cottage garden and veggie plot. Friends bought land and got chickens and grew fruit trees and she waited. Hoping the day would come where she could put her ideas and vision into practise. Learning in the meantime, always learning- and learning that the garden never stops teaching!
Then, one day, her opportunity came. It came in a rectangle of grass with good sunlight. Enough room for a few chooks, some decent compost space, gardens and of course the trampoline for the monkeys. So she set to work. She shared the vision with her boy and the 2 little monkeys, and they planned and sketched ideas and changed their ideas…and then they started. There was mulch (20 cubic metres of the stuff!) there was dirt, lovingly transported from their rental in Tweed. There were bath tubs, trips to the local hardware store, nursery and tip shop. Whole Sundays, moths on end in the garden, growing, moulding and making the right spaces. There were many nights spent up late thinking on the latest developments, figuring out how to put the next garden/tree or plant into the ground and exactly which was the right spot.
As of the 29th of March, 2017, the garden was still a work in progress. It was her dream space slowly becoming a reality. Let me tell you about the garden she had in Yesterday…
Yesterdays garden was tidy. There was a huge, absolutely fox and snake proof chicken house/run with 6 gorgeous girls who loved scratching up the ground and mixing up the mown grass with gusto. Next to their house was a 3 bay composting system, made by the boy and the Dad. Next, was a huge area of mulched garden. As of yesterday, it held 1 of the 3 planned veggie gardens in it (4.8m x 1.2m), along with an array of fruit trees including:
2 Red Papayas, dwarf citrus (mandarin, lemonade, lemon, grapefruit and orange), a fig tree, asparagus, raspberries strawberries and blueberries, a globe artichoke, avocado, lychee and fejoa trees. There were herbs including chia, bergamot, tarragon, basil, anise hyssop, cat mint, oregano, coriander, rosemary, thyme, sage and comfrey. There was also a trampoline with mulch underneath it and a few native violets and pansys enjoying their little home under the crazy monkeys jumping.
The garden of yesterday didn’t completely ignore the threat of flooding. Garden beds were suitably raised, the chicken house was off the ground, and the avocado tree was planted in a place considered to have better run off than other parts of the yard. In a flood the size of ’54 or ’74 things would have been damaged, but salvageable.
But the girl in this story doesn’t get to live in the garden of yesterday. She lives in the garden of today.
Todays garden is ruined. Utterly and completely. Bathtubs full of raspberries tipped over and strewn through the yard. Compost bays, chicken house and garden beds completely gone, without ever being seen again. A number of citrus trees washed away, all the mulch gone, trampoline in a mangled heap 300m down the back.
The garden of today has been a place of tears and sadness, overwhelm, cracked dry mud and desolation.
However, from the desolation and cracks, the garden of today is slowly dawning new. There are amazing pockets of survival and hope. The fig tree that looks better today than yesterday, the avocado tree standing tall and proud despite being fully underwater in the flood. Tiny flowers on the tarragon, defying the flood with a splash of cheerful colour straight after the clean up, and whilst laying sideways. The garden of today is growing other peoples seeds. Washed in, these have taken root and add another layer of hope and warm smiles. The mustard, the coriander, the chicken feed sprouting into all sorts of greenery, the unnamed curcubit. And the tomatoes! Heaps of them. The girl in the story can wander again! Her wanderings find her collecting rather odd things like broken glass and other random debris, but as she stumbles on new little seedlings amongst the weeds, there is a new life emerging throughout the once mulched area. Sadness remains as the weeds grow up and sit, unattended. Strawberries are left to throw their runners, and chickens have long ago eaten the parsley down to nothing and scratched around the remaining citrus tree. Still, hope is emerging, like a tender seedling. A hope followed quickly by the question that always hangs in the air. She wonders if it is worth doing anything in this space again. Emotions shout at her not to, its too risky, and it will all just wash away again. Logic says this flood was a big one. The girl in the story knows that without a place to play and plant and let her monkeys explore, life won’t really be the same. And so, she thinks, processes, wonders and makes tentative steps towards plans. Sketches of new ideas, collecting new thoughts as she considers what might be in the garden of tomorrow.
Tomorrows garden has a lot of life experience to fall back on. Tomorrows garden has the chance to be better, to re start and to choose a new way of being. Tomorrows garden can look back on Yesterday and recognise that there was just too much hot sun on the veggie patch, that the mulched area was too big and took a lot of time to weed. Tomorrow can look at yesterday and realise that sometimes garden dreams might only be dreams, too lofty and too big for the reality of a life with jobs and monkeys and not quite as much time as one would like to imagine having. Tomorrow can learn from the big flood. Learn to be more realistic, more attainable, and more sustainable.
Finding this tentative, fresh enthusiasm, the girl in the story still holds back, feeling overwhelmed by the mess and the weeds and the not knowing where to begin. She gets in touch with a permaculture designer…and tomorrows garden starts to not feel so far away. Maybe, just maybe this bit of wisdom and a new set of eyes looking at this space without the emotion of the love invested and the flood mess will break through and see potential. The girl in the story is excited. Way more cautious, but with her biggest monkey sprouting ideas and designs and the desire to do it better, there is hope. Opportunity and gratitude is growing like those sideways tarragon flowers.
Tomorrow’s garden will be better. A new chapter of growth and memories, learning and experience.
Tomorrows garden will be audacious and colourful and very aware of yesterday.
The girl in the story is closing the chapter called Yesterday and letting go. Turning the pages and looking forward to what emerges in Tomorrow, not only in her yard, but in others as well. Here’s to future gardens and the many hours of enjoyment as they are rebuilt…watch this space!
Feature Image: Flash Alexander (Upsplash)