Sunday, 2 October 2011

The hidden gardener

Amongst the many roles a gardener takes on one of the most important in my eyes is that of their invisible nature. In the same way that a good painter doesn’t have to stand next to their picture and say “Here, look what I’ve created” a garden shouldn’t need an over the top personality pointing out all the hard work they’ve done. When I’ve finished for the day I like for my clients to come out and enjoy the site of a landscape in balance, often only spotting me secreted away in the depths of a bed as a second thought.

The whole idea of a relaxing garden is one in which people can sit with a cup of tea or glass of wine and not feel the need to jump up and tidy away an offending bush or compromise where they sit to avoid the view of an unsightly corner. At the end of the week I’m lucky enough to finish my work in a quiet self enclosed large garden where I’ve been given free reign to plant and cultivate as is my whim. A garden of this size not only requires a lot of regular work to keep it under control but all produces a lot of garden waste most of which goes back into the garden in one way or the other, whether that’s in the form of compost of the use of prunings for pea-sticks.
Tucked away in a shaded corner behind the pond sits the leaf mould piles, here I’ve spent the last week toiling away creating woven hurdles to segregate the different bays and sifted through last years leaf mould to spread on the herb beds.
It was whilst doing this I discovered another hidden gardener when I lifted a carder bees nest out from the undergrowth, thankfully they were very understanding and once I’d put them back down and replaced the leaves they left me to it.
The point is that what used to be a purely practical corner where my clients chucked garden waste but did their best not to see, has now been incorporated into the general feel of the garden whilst still fulfilling its role most effectively, plus it’s cheered the clients up no end. On top of this it’s still invisible to those strolling around the garden but not due to it being hidden but because of the fact it simply blends in with its surroundings.

The bees nest did draw my mind to something else however. The workers of the garden tend to blend into the background too, oh there’s the occasional exception to the rule most predominantly seen in a butterflies wing but on average the workers colours tend to be on the muted side. Bees, ants, birds and other associated toilers of the landscape go about their business with a “Don’t mind me I’m just passing through” ethos.
Taking this on board I like to see that I myself have also calmed down in the colour department, gone are the days of multicoloured trousers and bright colourful t-shirts, an effect that no doubt made me look more like a paint factory experiment and welcomed is the attire of mossy greens, muddy browns and faded khaki’s.

This is not to say that I have anything against a more colourfully dressed gardener but I do think that we should take second or even third place to the plants and wildlife we are surrounded by on a daily basis. Maybe if we became part of the background more, rather than striving to be in the fore we might start to not only see the beauty of the world we live in but also come to realise that we ourselves are part of that beauty.