Writing a garden diary each month gives me a rhythm and frame. But sometimes plants unfold and live in quite different timescales.
Gardening in the time of Coronavirus: watching changes in minute detail. As spring arrived the garden leapt into life, I cleared away last year’s dead growth, and moved to home working.
This month felt little more than a horticultural interregnum. A pause. As though the garden froze in January, awaiting a spring thaw in March.
The palette of January is brown, pin-pricked with whites and greens.
In her lovely book ‘Life in the Garden’, Penelope Lively describes gardening as “the conquest of nature, the harnessing of nature to a purpose”, and “the creation of an ordered state where nature would insist on disorder”. I find this a curious view, especially from somebody who has spent a lifetime with her fingers in the soil, and observing gardens. Admittedly many gardening fashions over the years have sought to shape nature to a pastiche of the sublime, the picturesque, or the de-natured geometric. The dominant ethos of suburban gardening until quite recently was to spray nature into submission, leaving only manicured flowers to poison unsuspecting insects. This was the “ordered state” to which gardeners aspired. But whether at the level of a petal, a plant or a whole garden, I find in nature’s design the most complex and fascinating ordered state. One that emerges of its own accord, and…