My landlords came round the other week to make sure that the house hasn’t been too trashed in the 2 years we’ve been living here. No big issues. Their only observation was that “the garden could do with a bit of attention.”
You know what? They are absolutely right, and I have taken immediate action.
My first step has been to get up every morning before the kids need to wake up and sit silently for half an hour in the garden while the sun rises. This is called by some a ‘sit spot’ and is a practice as important to budding naturalists as breathing, so it seems like a good move. And from here I can pay the garden a lot of attention.
Another step has been to cease mowing the lawn or pulling weeds. The lawn, in addition to tall buttercups, daisies and clover, already now has bugle and bacon-and-eggs and lots of interesting grasses (I assume these are what everyday lawn grass is always struggling to become in between lawnmower slaughterings. What a lovely discovery – grass isn’t just grass, just as people aren’t just people!).
There are rather a lot more butterflies. I am watching the development of blackberry flowers in 24-hour time lapse. I have begun to notice the difference between a blue tit call and a blue tit song, and what juvenile birds look like and what they do with their mums and dads.
What is the connection between the buttercup and the oak tree? I’m not in a rush to solve such mysteries, but I am very happy to be in the presence of them a bit more.
Where do all the sycamore leaves go when they fall? It certainly isn’t me clearing them up I can tell you. But after a couple of months there’s no trace, I managed to notice last year. I can’t wait until Autumn to start finding out. Whatever happens, I’m sure it’s better going back to the mud than into the brown bin. Perhaps this awful negligence explains why a pretty flower called bistort has sprung up under the sycamore…
The well-kept lawn is surely an aberration. It’s the perfect symbol of our times. Pride taken in the maintenance of a featureless monoculture, with machines and chemicals applied to stop anything daring to peep up its head. The pursuit of heart-shrivelling perfection. The cutting of connections and the banishment of diversity. All carried out with a bored, whingeing resignation, wrestling with a Qualcast when you ought to be (and would rather be) wrestling with the kids in the nodding meadow fescue.
There is such pleasure in allowing in a bit of wildness, especially if I turn up and join in.
I wish for the garden what I wish for my children – not only a chance to make a living but also a chance to express and develop a rich assortment of capabilities, both wild and tame. I want that for me too.
Thank you, my landlords, for some very good advice.