How does your garden grow?
What do you picture in your mind when you think of the word ‘garden’ ?
The typical suburban cultivated plot with a lawn in the centre of flower borders, shrubs and trees, perhaps surrounded by a neatly shaped hedge?
Large expanses of green such as one finds in our National Trust owned Stately homes of England – sweeping drives, tree lined avenues, the majesty of established mature oaks, sycamore, rowen, beech trees, manicured lawns, landscaped acres designed perhaps by Capability Brown with rose arbours, herb gardens, orangery?
Perhaps a cottage garden, roses around the door and flower beds full of colour from hollyhocks, delphiniums, cornflowers, snapdragons, red hot pokers, honeysuckle climbing up trelliswork, a brick path leading you from the gate through this sea of colour to the neat front door?
We all have different ideas of gardens, often shaped by memories of childhood. Our gardens take on different characters throughout the changing seasons. In the UK we see distinct seasonal changes – in the winter many plants lie dormant, no growth, as they reserve their energy, rest and await the warmth of the sun once more. Dark days, many trees and shrubs mere skeletons having shed their leaves, the earth hard and cold from frost and often snow. Springtime and the sun rises higher in the sky and stays for longer each day, warming the earth and triggering growth, we see young green leaves, blossoms on trees, hedges fill out, new shoots push through to soil to reach the light. Summertime and many gardens are alive with colour, long days, plenty of sunshine and a few showers produce the best blooms, bees are frequent visitors as are the butterflies and many other species of insects – the garden is literally bursting with life. And the days become shorter, the temperatures drop, as do leaves, growth slows down as autumn leads us once again into winter.
So how does your garden grow? do you feed your garden with fertiliser and nutrients? Tend it well, nurture shoots and young plants, provide support in the form of canes and trellis, water and feed regularly? If you do all of this you will have a garden to enjoy, flowers will attract bees, vegetables and fruits can be harvested for your nourishment, you will have created a pleasant environment enjoy, play and relax.
Neglect your garden and the rampant weeds spread and choke the plants, taking over and turning your garden into an unruly wilderness. But what is a weed? Simply a non native species – usually introduced by man. Take for example the Rhododendron – introduced into this country as its flowers and blooms were admired and it was thought to be ideal for large estates – it is however considered a weed, a pest, its rampant growth chokes trees and prevents the growth of native plants in the same environment.
What of the common Dandelion? how many kill these and remove from their gardens? Yet the dandelion roots make an efficacious tea which can be used as a diuretic, the young leaves are edible and tasty as a salad leaf providing valuable iron, and the yellow blooms are a source of nectar for bees, of vital importance as they are one of the early flowering plants. So is the Dandelion truly a weed?
I invite you to think about your life as a garden. Do you have some in your life who are like weeds – enter your life uninvited and outstay their welcome, imposing their way and stifling you, restricting your growth? Have you thought to cultivate your life garden to grow the right crop, keeping those within your garden that are beneficial, enjoyable, bear fruit and weeding out those that are no longer needed?
Something to think about while you’re mowing your lawn, watering the flowers, picking fruit, weeding under hedges, enjoy the result of your labours
and perhaps contemplate what work, if any, is needed for the cultivation of your life garden…