by Jeannie MacTwachle
I’m a Mad gardener. My Mad Garden is living proof of my insanity. For people who prefer Golf or Hiking or simply lounging in a garden, my passion for grubbing in the dirt and moving vegetation from here to there must seem quite daft.
I love the colour in summer in the front, and the cooler green shade that has accidentally appeared in the back. None of it is entirely planned. But I can say “I made this space. I hauled those rocks - dug out that bed, planted that tree and watched it grow from a tiny thing to a 12’ growing, blossoming affair.” Those are now my children - those plants. I talk out loud to them - which sometimes startles passers-by, when a voice from the ground remarks - “You don’t look very good today, do you?”
In the past, TB patients were encouraged to get outside and dig and plant things. Just see the spruce trees in Baker Park (across the river from Bowness Park). The earth was believed to give off beneficial chemicals which enhanced overall well-being. I have heard there is some science behind that, and feel it to be true. So grubbing in the dirt, and breathing it in, is beneficial to one’s health. Sitting on the ground in the sun’s warmth and not worrying whether all the quack grass, dandelions or other enthusiastic ‘weeds’ have been removed is immensely relaxing.
Hope springs eternal. As does my garden. Nothing ever turns out quite the way you expect it to. Plants dislike the location you have chosen, or some up and die with no explanation. Many plants are migrant. They trot along from year to year and you never quite know where they will turn up next. They leave their used up area behind and simply move on, just like humans. So now that marvellous yellow centre piece bracketed by 2 purple daisies is no longer where it was!
I am supposed to be simplifying - not increasing my work load. Bushes are now beginning to figure more prominently and I have acquired 2 ornamental grasses. Day Lilies are sometimes permitted to engulf things. Then, at other times, I change my mind, and a huge dig out ensues! You can see that keeping all the balls in the air is as complex as being a juggler. It isn’t the strategy of a game of golf. But it is a long standing and permanent dialogue between oneself and nature. Not wild nature - but the domestic variety.
Many people prefer to visit nature’s own garden in the Rockies in an alpine or a sub alpine meadow. That takes hiking uphill. The same vagaries occur in the wild as happen in my yard. Some magical corner that contained a mass of every species may not be on display the following year. The grizzly bear that manages the glacier lilies - will have feasted on their bounty and when that crop has been consumed - she and her cubs may move after a few years to another patch - leaving some small churned up bulbs, duly fertilized, to start over. Nowhere is ever the same twice.
So from my garden I have learned who is boss - and it isn’t me. Even if I had a hand in my creation- I do not call the shots. I am relearning lessons that at one time humans passed down from mother to daughter about the nature of the land, of what to plant and when and where. There would have been a why as well. Whether it was rightly attributed matters not.
So whether you garden or not- just know Things are never the same all the time. To everyone who reads this - Happy Living.