With spring truly here the days and lighter evenings are filled with bird song, skipping lambs and a constant fragrance of Daffodils. It sees me ‘pottering’ in the garden, obsessing over my newly sown seeds and planning projects to improve it and make it more user-friendly.
In the beginning…
I would have never described myself as green fingered or even inclined to be. Despite having a Nan who adored her wild garden, mom was allergic to mowing! I too turned my nose up at gardening – growing up, we’d laugh at our neighbor’s anal tendencies about their obsession over their green, green grass…
In more recent years, however, I’ve witnessed the mental and physical benefits of tending to nature. As I dig deeper, I’ve come to learn that the apple didn’t fall that far from the tree. It seems I’ve inherited my Nan’s love for gardening – I just didn’t know it.
I’ve partly my Nan’s style and attitude when it comes to gardening. Like her, I love wild landscapes. My Nan’s garden over the years has been swallowed by the woodlands next door. She no longer digs her way out, fighting against the grain. Instead, she’ll find another plant pot to cram on her bird and squirrel infested patio – insisting nature will always do her own thing (and how right she is).
Over a 5 year period, I’ve met many people who’ve loved gardening for an array of reasons and I’ve been encouraged and inspired by them. Before you get the impression, I’m some Charlie Dimmick, I’m nowhere near. I’ve only recently learned how to transplant flowers, deadhead and now I know what sow means!
See? A complete novice!
Let’s Start Again….
Since moving into my new home in the Welsh countryside, I’ve been blessed with so much garden space that I’d feel spoiled if I didn’t use it for the good. Garden? I actually want to say fields since that’s what it was until it was bought to accompany the house. As you’d expect it comes with field characteristics; many trees, molehills, clumps of uneven grass, at times waterlogged, home to Pheasants, Partridges, Owls and so on.
Most manicured garden fanatics would say I’ve got a challenge on my hands (they’re probably right) but it doesn’t feel like that, rather more of a blessing.
Sometimes I think there’s too much space (that’s not possible) and it confuses me when I try to draw up a plan of where to go next and what to do.
I don’t want to turn it into a structured, neat and artificial environment (I love the molehills!) because that’s not true to nature’s personality or mine! The people before me who tended to these gardens seemed to have shared a similar ‘wild’ outlook.
So the plan is – one section at a time. Looking at the areas mostly used and then improving on them.
I’ve particularly fallen in love with the idea of turning my gardens into space where I can grow food. Of course, since my nearly 1-acre plot is covered mostly in trees, it’s dark and damp and not perfect for growing or so I’d originally thought.
Over the year of being here, I’ve had to carefully monitor where gets most of the sunlight and go from there. Gardening is all about patience, monitoring and checking for other ways to do something.
Chelsea’s Garden Lessons
- It’s taught me that I am impatient and I need more patience;
- It’s strengthened relationships;
- I should focus on a small area and go from there;
- Pay attention to Permaculture methods because it’s the future of gardening;
- Checklists of planting and harvesting times are not anal but instead my best friend;
- My garden loves hardy perennials ( plants that can survive in cold harsh conditions);
- Just because it looks dead – don’t pull it up;
- It’s OK not to know every name of plants and trees (it comes with time);
- Field grass doesn’t understand (laughs) those guys who promise perfect green, green lawns.
A Shift in Perspective
It always amazes me when people say they don’t have time for a garden. I get it, they’re time-consuming, they cost money and they can be a lot of effort. But I feel that in a world where we build on every part of the land we have (or try to), pollute our food chain and so on, a green space is vital for our survival whether you choose to grow food or not.
- I’ve seen vegetables grow without soil or space;
- I’ve seen small gardens look just as an impressive as large and lavish ones;
- Gardens don’t have to cost loads of money nor time;
- They provide space for reading a book, meditating, growing food, raising a family, learning about our environment, playing with the dog and so on.
Chelsea’s Garden Projects
- Plant a wildflower woodland meadow (started) – I think the birds may have eaten the seeds?
- Start planting veggies (Lettuce, Rocket & Carrots planted) – I may have missed potato planting season!
- Build a pallet fence to section of the really wild from the plain ol’ wild (got the pallets)
- Put more statues, chimes and little plaques about
- Incorporate more colour
- Create a rock garden – (started)
We did our first grass cut of spring the other day since it was dry. The sweet smell of freshly cut grass is a beautiful scent once which is best not bottled rather experienced first hand. We took a trip to the garden centre to buy some new tools since my second-hand ones have seen better days. And we swapped our winter hanging baskets full of Heather and Ferns for Pansies and Violas. With Chirk Castle and Powys castle on the doorstep, it’s easy to find some local inspiration.
It takes years for a garden to come together but as cliched as it sounds, it’s about the journey, not the destination! If anything, gardening has become my mental respite something we could all do with alot more of.
I’d love to hear about your experience as a newbie gardener or indeed a long term one!