Yet again, I’m forced to acknowledge that I can’t do everything. Does this mean that yet again I need to let go some things I want to do?
One of my highest priorities is to live simply and sustainably. This includes having a beautiful and productive garden. Gardening is always one of my highest priorities. It grounds and renews me and brings me quiet joy.
A move to a new home and environment? Start the garden! But here I am, more than a year later and the garden is almost untouched . The weeds are still there, old plants cry out for pruning, there’s lots of potting to do, plants I bought last week are languishing, unplanted. And there’s a whole new garden to develop.
Whenever I’m outside I end up feeling disheartened, overwhelmed and frustrated.
What can I do? I can judge myself, become highly critical and end up with no gardening done feeling thoroughly miserable. Or, I can choose to practise self-acceptance and self-compassion with no judgement. To do this I must first accept that I cannot do the impossible; to start this garden from where it is now, is just too big a task for me. So I stop thinking I will.
So here’s what I shall do: I have settled on a plan, after much deliberation; we shall create no-dig gardens, or lasagne gardening; growing on top of the ground by building up layers. This soil is too hard and too degraded to attempt to dig. And to begin with, we shall have beds where there is now lawn, leaving some lawn around each bed.
I can’t do this. I don’t even make an attempt. It’s too big for me, even if I practise doing it “a bucket at a time. ”
So this week I shall find a gardener who will plant fruit trees and set up the garden beds. I have two sources to go to for information. I’ll ask my same sources if they know where I can buy old railway sleepers for my garden edges. If I can’t get any, then I shall order treated pine. I will talk to the garden suppliers to decide if I will order garden soil and compost at the same time. That will depend on whether I can begin to move it myself, slowly, “a bucket at a time”, to build up the beds. I need the beds started to get me over the first hurdle. Once the beds are in place and some initial layering is done, I’m going to try hay bale gardening. That way, I can start growing some vegetables before the beds are set up fully- I do know that it will take me time to set
them up. And as the bales break down they will become part of the process.
You see, this will be my second spring here and still I won’t have sweet peas, poppies, cornflowers, delphiniums, forget-me-nots, lupins, irises, daffodils, jonquils, anemones and all the other joys of a spring garden. For a second year we may not have the pleasure and sheer delight of extravagantly beautiful, fragrant roses; fruit trees take several years to bear fruit. I want to go out to my garden and pick that night’s dinner. For too many years I have not had the things I consider to be essential I don’t have years to wait. Housman talked of having only fifty years left to see the cherry hung with snow. I sure don’t have fifty years.
What have I learnt? To accept, yet again, that I am not superwoman and I can’t do everything. That I am prone to self-judgement and am still learning to be kind to myself. That I remain a work in progress. That, surprise, surprise, I’m still not perfect.
More prosaically, I realize that I have needed to live here for a time before I could clarify what I wanted to do and how I wanted to do it. And that plans take time to develop. Patience! There will be enough time! If I live each moment fully, that moment will be enough. When the flowers are blooming, Kathryn, remember to appreciate them. Drink in their beauty, share them, fill your house with them. And always, keep your hands in the earth. It’s the Amish who say that we are closest to God when we have our hands in the soil.