The State of the Garden(er)

Once again, I’ve become disengaged from my garden. Haven’t done anything much out there since leaf-raking time. But now it’s January — stock-taking time — and spring is lurking just below the horizon. A few days ago, I walked around and looked things over. No gloves on my hands, no tools in them. I had no intention of doing anything, just looking and seeing.

The garden is going along without me. Leaves are rotting, fallen branches accumulating. Lots of pond-side rocks rolled into the pond by raccoons. Holes dug all over the place by same. Lawn grass creeping into the beds (probably fleeing the dog pee, which is destroying it over wide areas). Early bulbs starting to sprout, some clematises also. Winter honeysuckle is in full bloom, wafting a delicious lemon scent in the evenings. The days are getting longer.

Conclusion: the garden is doing fine. Life and death processes are present. Nature doesn’t care about looks.

The gardener?

Having fits over the rotting leaves and fallen branches everywhere. Annoyed by raccoon damage. Distressed by the damaged lawns and fuzzy edges, resenting the dog. Making plans for edging, pruning, raking. Anticipating more fits. Envisioning better fences to contain the dog. Rejoicing at the sight of sprouting bulbs and budding clematises, gentians, etc. Heartened by the sight of what look like viable Meconopsis crowns. Feeling nostalgia induced by perfume of winter honeysuckle. Looking forward to retiring from The Job at the end of March and re-engaging with this patch of earth.

Maybe someday it will look like this again…

The Back Garden, May 2010

…minus those plastic chairs, of course.


  1. If the dog moulted I bet you could make a fantastic rug out of the hair.

    I’ve found that by doing a lot of walking in wild places it conditions you to accepting a wild look in the garden, especially in winter. The muted colours, bare earth, leafless shrubs are all out there in places I walk and enjoy visiting. It’s one reason why I divided my garden, with a wild side and a more controlled side. I don’t have a problem with raccoons though.

    The thought of honeysuckle scent in the evenings is quite evocative. Is it stronger after rain?

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    1. I understand some people collect dog hair, make it into yarn and knit things from it. Our dog is a Newfoundland, so she had a nice fluffy undercoat. But I don’t knit. The garden is basically OK, but some areas that were lawn will likely have to be paved. I also have plans for more effective fences. And yes, I do enjoy the look of our native forests in winter — the mosses and ferns are in great shape, as are the firs and cedars.

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    2. Oh, I forgot to mention the honeysuckle (Lonicera fragrantissima). Yes, the scent is stronger at times of high humidity. When I go out around 10 p.m. to read the rain gauge, it’s quite delightful.

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