Posted by: leafvigurs | March 27, 2015



My brother and I recently saw Monty Don talk at the Royal Geographical Society in London. He has been a gardening hero to us both for years and someone who’s gentle nature, approach to gardening and ability with words has long inspired me. Because we have no television at home  I have come to know him through his books, articles and work on radio 4, though I have seen and enjoyed a few of his ‘Around the World in 80 Gardens’ programmes.
Seeing him talk live was a joy, and if I could have asked him any question it would have been ‘What is it that makes you at heart a gardener’? But even before a chance to ask questions was reached, he had already told us. From the age of seven to seventeen he was, he said, ‘a reluctant gardener’. Then one day as he was planting carrot seed he suddenly realised that at that moment he was content. That night he dreamt as he pushed his hands into the ground his fingers grew like roots down into the soil.
It is a wonderful grounding thing, to push your hands into the earth each day. I am a keen radio listener and have heard countless people from all backgrounds talk of how it has helped and in some cases even saved them. To garden is to care for something other than self, not to rush but to find the flow of nature, guide seed and root and in return the grass grows green, flowers bloom and produce swells and ripens.
Sometimes the slugs find those young tender shoots and vine weevil larvae the roots. There are many things that superficially frustrate me as a gardener; disease, pests, adverse weather conditions, weeds and heavy clay could all be added to the list. The things that delight me outnumber these many times over. The sun, those first buds bursting, all manner of beautiful plants and animals, compost, clouds, growth, fragrance, autumn colours, seed dispersal, wind, tracks in the snow, frost patterns, even contentment…
Today the warm weather continued and the soil was moist from last night’s rain but still workable, crumbling nicely as daylilies and crocosmia were thinned and ornamental grasses planted to punctuate the bed. By midday however the rain had set in, and even before the increasingly short daylight faded I was forced to leave this work as the soil became sticky and I risked compaction. There was no glorious sunset like the previous two nights, just a heavy grey cloud in a quickly darkening sky. However the sound of the rainfall was gentle and meditative, in the gloom this soundscape was accompanied by the falling of leaves and the evening cries of pheasants.
I do not have Monty’s gift for language and though I have long thought about it I still cannot find the words to explain what it is I get from gardening. It could be thought that happiness is not found but practised, so perhaps all I can say is that I practise happiness in gardening. Matsuo Basho (1644-1694) wrote far more eloquently ;
Sitting quietly.

Doing nothing.
Spring comes and the grass grows by itself.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: