"Show me your garden and I shall tell you what you are."
"My whole life has been spent waiting for an epiphany, a manifestation of God's presence, the kind of transcendent magical experience that lets you see your place in the big picture.
And that is what I had with my first compost heap."
When we moved from Sydney to Canberra I brought with us my modest collection of succulents. Nurtured and cajoled from babyhood, they were the embodiment of my first ever gardening efforts and I valued them accordingly. Once settled in our new house I placed them in what I hoped would appear to be artfully haphazard and unpremeditated vignettes in the sunshine along the verandah.
I remember it was sometime in early July when we awoke to our first experience of a frosty morning. We spent the next hour in the garden gawping at the beauties frost had bequeathed on various plantings until we reached the verandah and I noticed my Aeonium arboreum leaning on a drunken angle in a pulpy state of undress. Letting out a screech of distress I raced from one succulent to another only to find them all in a similar state. All that is, except this Sedeveria which I now suspect would survive and thrive in a nuclear fall-out without blinking a metaphorical eyelid.
You'll be happy to know that my new collection of succulents are living the life of Riley on the window sill for the winter, patiently waiting out the many nights of the long knives for the return to spring and verandah vignettes.
Being the beginner gardener that I am, I'm discovering how difficult it is to keep all the juggling balls in the air at once. Take for example the issue of seasonal plantings, having now been living and working in this garden for twelve months almost to the day, I realise that I haven't given enough thought to ensuring year-round flowering. Don't get me wrong, I love the decay and quiet of winter but one of the beauties of living in this cold climate is the access to winter flowers like forsythia and wintersweet. Both of which are conspicuous in their absence here. During the summer I thought briefly about buying these in preparation for a magnificent winter display only to get side-tracked with summer delights such as roses and poppies and .... I'm more a live for the moment gardener rather than a longitudinal one and perhaps that's what seperates the men from the boys in the gardening stakes.
The only things that are flowering right now are the wallflowers and the hellebores. The wallflowers don't count because I cheated and bought mature plants last week on the cusp of flowering for some immediate gratification. Not sure of the name of this one but it has some delectable colour variation in the blossom and a startling similarity to my grandmother's eau de toilette - a violetty, musky scent that reminds one of devonshire teas and knitted cardigans.
The hellebores I take COMPLETE credit for, having nurtured them as wee seedlings through the summer heatwave and the onslaught of small children's feet.
I slipped into the silence there for a little while, sorry about that. Not that things haven't been happening in the garden. Much has been planted and I perch impatiently on my hands and knees willing growth, all the while knowing the futility of such thoughts. There is a correctness in this fallow period when mysteries are happening below the earth, a certain rightness to the dormancy that teaches patience and fortitude. So writes a gardener who routinely pulls vegetables from the ground to check whether they are growing!
If this garden can teach me anything, I hope it might be a certain equanimity to let things be and grow in their own sweet time.