Tuesday, 22 May 2012

From dark to light

Compost stage 1

The final black crumbly gold
My friends are so lucky! If they feel a little downhearted for any reason, I say 'Come and have a look at my compost corner', and for some reason it cheers them up! I once spent a night hardly sleeping at all, because I was due to uncover the heap next day. It's so exciting to see the transformation from the raw weeds etc to the crumbly black stuff. It's a slow kind of pleasure of course, which might be why it is such a pleasure. Highly recommended.

Gone to seed
Aconites, not mine though
A lot of the pleasure of the garden is not in some spectacular plant, but in some little unexpected gem. I saw this very small thing while digging up dandelions, and wondered what it was. Examination of the leaves told me it was the late winter's aconites, gone to beautiful seed. They are crisp and translucent, like small prawn crackers.

Surprising light
And then in the evening, looking out of the kitchen window, the garden suddenly had that luminous look that comes on when the sun is going down. I had to go out, and saw that the backdrop to our garden, the graveyard next door, was floodlit, and I thought of that hymn 'Sometimes a light surprises the Christian while he sings'. Those trees really are not that colour at all! There's a golden splash on this side of the wall too, which is a stump of dark holly! This pic has not been altered in any way by Ye Olde Photo Shoppe or any other programme.

Gardening all day today, I don't think I had any thought in my head except how lovely it was to be there. I did think about the proverb:

If you would be happy for a week take a wife; if you would be happy for a month kill a pig; but if you would be happy all your life plant a garden.

(Just be careful if you try to follow this, and get the nouns and verbs in the right order. Apologies to vegetarians too. But they say that the smell of bacon frying is the thing that really tests vegetarian resolve).

Being analytical and never having killed a pig, and rather enjoying sitting up in bed with the laptop and musing, I thought to list what it is about doing the garden that makes it possible for me to assent at least to part of this. I think the word is 'transformation', which happens in so many ways. I had to list them:

1) Compost (always no. 1 for me!) - nature working in the dark; we used to sing a song about bulbs working underground at junior school, which always had me in a little secret heaven as I sang.

2) Seedlings - like all new growth, always a delight, unless it's some weed that you just can't get to like. And their lives depend on us, for a while; we like to nurture and be needed.
One ned of my home-made 'country lane'
'Woodland edge' community
3) The effect of light - always surprises one, whether singing or not, always with healing in its wings.

4) Sounds, smells etc; is there a sense not satisfied in the garden?

5) Nurturing plant communities - seeing things all grow together snugly. This requires a light hand - not too much interference. Working with, not against.

But this is like analysing Shakespeare into rag and ink. I shouldn't do it really.

I end with 2 pics, first of what looked like coarse grass, but I hoped it was something else that I'd sown a few years back and had disappeared for a while.... and then I waited a few days, and lo, I saw, my hopes were fulfilled and it was the quaking grass, which we saw growing wild in Spain too while walking the camino. Hope fulfilled, and happy memories evoked. Plus the list above.

(Apologies for the half-pics above. Google's 'blogger' system must be playing up today. I will sort it if I can.)

Coarse couch grass....?

No! Quaking grass.

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