Grief is heavy, muddying, and confusing. A friend of mine told me that when her mother was full of grief for her stillborn baby, her sister took her into the garden with a trowel and left her there for a few weeks:;gardening along side her, not asking any questions but listening when it was needed. My friend’s mother was not alone in finding solace and healing in her garden – the internet is full of similar tales, there are even books on the subject.
And so although I have not written, I have pottered in my garden; more when I was at home with my parents then once I was back in my flat as my balcony is not really made for ‘pottering in the garden!’ My grief is not for a stillborn but for the loss of my cousin, sudden and unexpected, and for the pain that her parents and siblings are having to face. This post is not about my grief, or about my cousin: it is about my garden. But the world is a slightly worse place, and I am more comfortable once it has been acknowledged. I don’t want to pretend that nothing has changed, I’m sure that the ripples impact on many things. So there it is: acknowledged.
So onto my garden.
It seems to be dying. There is no sun.
When we first arrived in the flat in July, my balcony got the sun from about three in the afternoon, but now in October it already seems to be all but gone. My strawberries started to rot on the stems before they had ripened. There is some sort of white fungus covering my previously lovely yellow flowers and they have withered. The tomatoes… well finally I have some green tomatoes but they didn’t materialise until well into September. Now the leaves grow speckled-y, some of them are yellow and limp, but more worryingly there is black in the stems, which spreads across the plants and seems to pollute the tomatoes themselves.
I think i will not have any ripe tomatoes.
Luckily my tomatoes are not all I have to tell you about! Whilst at home I made a few things. My parents were trying to empty all the garden rubbish into a tip in preparation for an Am Dram BBQ and I, unhelpfully, kept rescuing things right back out again…
The first was a up-cycled tyre planter. There is a lot of conflicting advice out there about the best thing to paint tyres with, but as I wanted a quick project – a distraction – we went for whatever paint we had in the garage. It was off. It didn’t mix well, and it ran all over my driveway… with some perseverance we did get quite a nice covering which lasted for maybe a week before starting to flake off. I think if the lovely balloon flowers that I planted in it survive till next year in the spring I will try to repaint them with something a little more hardy.
The second project was my “Bug Hotel”! You may have heard of them, seen ideas on pinterest or in real life, in places like the Eden Project. Essentially its trying to create a haven for all bugs and insects. They are often made from stacking pallets and then stuffing the gaps with all sorts of different things that insects might like to live in.
So stacked pallets, I filled them with things i found in the garden – lots of sticks, dried grass, some windfall from the apple trees, some empty tennis ball shells, handfuls of moss, some old dried chestnuts…. I can’t wait to keep filling it with more things when I find them like pine cones when it is the right season. I also planted some things in my pallets. There are similar ideas online with plants in my pallets but not all – my neighbour felt the concept of watering the bug hotel bizarre, but it isn’t out of the rain so surely they can deal with some water?
As the insects moved in we started noticing the birds hopping across the top picking out food – bug hotel or bird buffet???
I’m so pleased with it – but I hope the poor heather survives: I planted it in the wrong soil, so am watering it with acid plant feed whilst hoping the plants under it stay alive as well!
So there is a little garden update for you, we will see which plants survive the incoming cold, and I will get back to writing regularly again. I hope you enjoyed.