It seems to me now on this March day from where I sit near the window, warm with cat and book,
that maybe the baby juniper we planted last year could have been tied with twine a few times round or wrapped in burlap to keep it upright.
As it is it’s become a small flopping thing, arms landing north and south.
East, west too.
But then would it have thanked me for keeping it in better form—
—or is it, in its untidy freedom,
the envy of the landscaped world…
(Junipers have a place in my heart, ever since I met this one…)
I hang small flags
upon the fabric, flickering in a line
across the yard until
not thoughts and prayers
but prayers answered
and uses one for
One of my favourite days of the year. Most of it spent wrestling with words, but also a few other things done. A tablecloth made, prayer flags hung. Ironing.
Some fresh litter tossed about.
A chick pea salad for dinner (with parsley and arugula from the garden).
It’s the perfect solstice evening now… raining and sunny and warm. All of it mixed together, alternating, the light and the sky, the way it keeps changing from something luminescent and golden, making even the neighbour’s garage door look stunning… to momentarily stormy grey. The kind of skies you’d call dramatic. The kind that if you painted them exactly as they are, you’d be called a hack. No one would believe skies really looked like that. The kind of skies you see in 18th century paintings about the fur trade.
I wanted to post something to mark this special day; I had a few ideas; I was going to write about issues and faith and the futility of fear, and how there’s a dove nesting on my porch and how the mother sometimes leaves it for hours at a time and the first time she left I was frantic; I called the animal people and asked what to do. They said keep an eye on things. I did and she came back and I began to notice that there was a rhythm to her comings and goings. I shoo away the squirrels and other birds but, mostly, I think mama bird and baby know exactly what they’re doing. I think they can manage pretty well without me sticking my oar in.
Which always amazes the arrogant human in me.
I was going to write about all that… but I’ve spent too much time on words today and this is all I have left.
So enough with the writing. I’m heading outside, to revel in the light.
And pick me some chamomile for a brew later tonight.
Here’s to the longest day…
Don’t fret if you don’t see honey bees in your yard.
According to this piece by Eric Atkins, there are dozens of other kinds.
All are important. All are pollinators.
And they want to live in the messy bits of your garden.
So make sure you have a few messy bits.
Piles of rocks and sticks.
Also a fairie beach does not go amiss…
General rule of thumb appears to be this: don’t over-rake, over-prune or anally tidy every last bit of the outdoors.
If you must be anal, you can always go inside and clean your house.
As for those honeybees…seems we ought not to become amateur bee keepers as we risk doing more harm than good in spreading disease and parasites.
In other words: leave beekeeping to the pros.
And create friendly environments instead for all those OTHER bees, i.e. leafcutters, bumblebees, sweaters and miners.
Bonus: because the natural world is naturally diverse, to allow a bit of the ‘natural’ will result in fewer bad bug infestations.
—when buying plants and seeds, check with the grower or nursery about use of neonicotinoids. More and more growers are choosing not to use them, but only because more and more people are asking questions and raising a fuss.
Raise a fuss.
The bees will thank you.
And we’ll continue thanking the bees.
As we should.
Without them we’re pretty much landscaped toast.
I don’t garden.I plant things and do what I can to keep the weeds at bay. But the weeds usually win.
I used to care. Used to fret about weeds winning. It used to be that I couldn’t sit on the patio after working for hours in the garden, fretting and fussing and weeding, couldn’t sit down at last and just say, “Well, that looks good.”
Because I’d notice something askew. Or how the tall blue things were in front of the short yellow things.I used to care that delphiniums fell over in the rain.Then one day I got rid of the delphiniums.And anything else that was a bit precious. Or incapable of weathering the weather.The yard became less garden and more Place Where Things Grow or Don’t Grow; It’s Up To Them.Oh, what a happy day when I stopped being a gardener and started being someone who could sit on the patio at the end of the day and say, well isn’t that a lovely sight.
Without fretting about colour combinations and bloom time and height and things keeling over untidily.Untidy is hardly noticeable in my ungardenly garden. So if things are lovely, it has nothing to do with me.
After I stopped being a gardener, I sat on the patio one night and said out loud, “Well, doesn’t everything look wonderful”, and a young girl who was on the patio with me said what a funny thing for an adult to say. “Usually adults complain about things,” she said.So true.
Because we think we’re in charge.
Only takes a wee whiff.
A farm with a huge lavender garden. Me cycling over to pinch a few sprigs and tuck them into books and things all over my room. The farm was down the road from a shop, down a hill that was foggy most mornings. The streets were cobbled and there was a field across which I cycled to town, one time passing an elderly man who I’d heard had recently lost his mum. I stopped and said how sorry I was and he said, hardly missing a beat, “Well, it comes to us all.” I’ve thought of him often over the decades, never more so than when my own mum died.
I remember brambles and roundabouts and orange Squash at room temperature, the cream at the top of those bottles of milk on the doorstep and how fresh garlic was impossible to find (you’d be lucky to even score a jar of the ‘prepared’ stuff in the tiny ‘foreign’ section of Waitrose where the pasta was also hidden).
I remember women on the High Street with their carrier bags and baskets and everyone—really everyone—saying hello to one another. All ages too, if only by virtue of the slightest nod of acknowledgement. One time, getting back on my bike outside the Waitrose, two young boys — teeny boppers — smiled and held out a couple of weedy flowers they’d picked from between cracks in the pavement. There was an ad on TV around that time where the guy does exactly that and hands them to a girl on the street and says Impulse? which was the name of the product being advertised, a body mist. Well, the lads played this scene out with such style and giant grins, that I happily took the flowers and pedaled away, smiling too. I was in my mid-twenties then, a veritable matron, so it was in no way a come on, more like a kind of appreciation from a respectful distance, with elements of a sweet lark that I’m not sure exists anymore among young’uns… though I hope it does. Too wonderful a thing to lose.