In these utterly strange times, where almost everything that makes up the routines our normal daily lives is in a state of suspension, it feels like a time for reflection. It is most definitely something that I have been doing, especially these past few weeks. At the start of all of the craziness, I think like most people it took a little while for me to get my head round what was happening. Now eight weeks into the crisis, seven of those in lockdown, we have had to find our footing on a very unsteady journey.

Having spent the requisite 14 days self-isolating, due to possible exposure to someone with virus symptoms, I didn’t leave the house at all for the first 7 days. I read the research and examined the risks which indicated that I could be a carrier, even if I didn’t have any symptoms myself. The warm weather, and the realisation that I might not be able to leave the house for a long time, has made me extremely grateful for a large unruly garden to occupy myself with.

In those early days while I was still trying to work things out in my brain, which was on red-alert continually, I was out there daily cutting back shrubs and clearing away the debris of a wild and windy winter. I repaired and painted the fence, lopped dead wood from the trees,  dug the stray grass out of the borders and weeded the patio within those initial two weeks. The following week I dug a border along the fence, as it’s wide expanse is not very inspiring to gaze at everyday through the living room window.

When I had stopped ‘doing’ and started ‘seeing’ again, hope and renewal of the new season ahead unfurled in my troubled mind. I considered however the world seemed to have stopped suddenly for an indeterminate amount of time, nature would still keep things moving forward. I noticed the tiniest of seedlings breaking through the crust of the earth and sharp green buds on bushes and trees. Familiar plants were taking shape and beginning to fill the spaces in the soil with the promise of early summer blooms.

The possibilities of creating an attractive space to spend relaxing summer evenings remerged and the labours of the previous two springs and summers could be built upon. Like many who are lucky enough to have a garden to enjoy, I decided that if I was going to spending much of my free time in it, or at least looking through the window at it, that it should be a thing of beauty. I stood back an appraised the work I had done so far and started to make plans.

Finances being tight, and the fact both the garden and the house are rented means I do not want to spend a lot of money on it, however looking around I saw that I have achieved a lot on a small budget already. The three foot pampas in the corner was a dried out ten inch specimen when I spied it for just £3 on the rack outside Fred Hallam’s a couple of year’s ago. It fills out a corner of the garden beautifully now, and the long elegant blades look stunning against the burnt orange fence.

There are few ‘rescue’ plants dotted about, the clump of ornamental grass that I dug out of someone’s front garden (at their request) and split to plant in my own sunny beds, the bedraggled lavenders picked up from Wilko’s at the end of the season and plants that people have kindly donated from their own gardens or given as gifts. Seeds are always a cheap way to add colour to your garden though, and some of these have been very successful at filling the borders with new life. 

I am patiently watching a new set of seeds pushing their way through compost in readiness to join the patches of green that have already established themselves. Other new editions this year are half a dozen little grasses that my friend Ruth kindly added to her order from a local plant nursery. The seedlings I am most excited about this year are a crop of baby sunflowers that I bought as seeds from Fiona of Minifi. I think they will make a bold statement against the fence in my new border.

The thing I like most about the sunflower seeds is that Fiona harvested them from her own plants, and that makes them more special – maybe I should continue the cycle…

I am taking great comfort in the certainty that nature will continue to flourish, perhaps even more so as we ‘stay home.’ As well as a tranquil space to ‘be’ at the moment, nature is a great healer and reminder of the progress of time. Nature doesn’t stop.

DU