Saturday, 29 August 2015

Getting stuck into the garden.

Garden as sanctuary.

For many the garden is a place of release, of refuge, a place they can escape the world on the other side of the fence and immerse themselves in their own world of thought and nature. Being a gardener by trade means I get the chance to do this every day, letting the mind unravel whilst the sun rolls across the day and I lose myself amongst the plants.
Today my mind chose to settle on a recently watched TED talk (link at the end) about the means of rising above bullying and being the person you are. I know I've mentioned before how complete the garden makes me and how I never feel more me than when down amongst the plants, soil trapped in the folds of my hand and all my senses filled with the garden. I'm well aware of the fact I'm not a people person and that working alone suits me, a point made even more prominent when I see the faces of those trapped in a job they don't enjoy. I haven't always been lucky enough to work on my own however...

Many, many moons ago I was a schoolboy. A typical, scraggy teenage schoolboy at a typically inner city school, Birmingham to be exact. In this school I have to be honest, I didn't do great. I didn't do bad either, but I tended to muddle along on the middle ground, neither failing or excelling. Nothing new there you may think, this is a story repeated over and over the world across however it's all the more real when you're the one living that story.
Now most children at school I would hazard to guess generally have something they do well in or at least try to. I hate to stereotype but a lot of the boys I remember who weren't interested in the academic side tended to be fairly into the sports side, especially if that involved football a sport I've never really seen the point of. It wasn't that I wasn't interested in anything it was more I didn't have the motivation for going for the best grades, it was more about the acquiring of knowledge rather than the correct application that drew my efforts.
I had a curiosity in the outer edges of subjects rather than the central curricular part, in English I wondered what the historical Macbeth was like and how would it have looked in those days to see a forest of men disguised as trees creeping across the land towards you. I have know idea what they wanted in my exam but it certainly wasn't any of that. In Science I wanted to know what the possibility of extra dimensions meant to our views of reality and even though I included a page of ponderings on such thoughts my teachers would apparently have preferred the correct homework instead. In P.E. I wanted to know where the best place to stand on the pitch was so as to never encounter the ball! All this did not lend me to making many friends, certainly no long term friendship were ever created, however it did open up a whole range of opportunities for the bullies. The weird long haired hippy with no interest in sports or academia does not belong in an inner city school.
There were no real vocational subjects, cookery class left the school before I did, woodwork was just a way to fill a bit of time and tick a box. Nothing to ever get your hands into. I learnt everything of use outside of school, the biggest lesson from inside school is that the world is really just one giant classroom. There's still the clever ones, the sporty ones, the ones who don't quite fit in and the bullies. The bullying doesn't stop when you leave school, it's still to be found in the modern workplace, in the street, on television, in everyday media, even amongst friends. So many people and faces saying who you can and cannot be, what you are, what you're not, what you should be, that there is barely enough time to hear your own thoughts.
This is where the garden comes in, this is where you can find sanctuary from all those voices, this is where I belong. The meek city schoolboy who was lost in a world of concrete, noise and education, sat in a stuffy classroom staring out the window now stands tall in the elements surrounded by acres of garden and countryside and knows he is home.

Get your hands dirty, silence the gaggle of the world and be comfy with yourself.

TED link. Shane Koyczan "To this day"...for the bullied and beautiful.

Monday, 24 August 2015

End of the day.

Sunlight dims, the colours of the days heat drain from the sky as the warm glow from our burning star begins it's crawl from the horizon.
Clouds capture the changing spectrum, flinging rays of red and orange across my eyes.
My mind fills with the beauty of our world pushing out the insignificant dross dumped upon one through the days.
Days become daze.
Sight becomes night.
I become sleep and all else seeps away.

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Seasonal glimpses

One of the joys of being in the garden at this time of year is it feels as though you've being given a special pre glimpse of things to come. This morning I was out around 5.30 (a 'perk' of having a toddler) and got to sample the first morning air, you know the one that seems to crystallize as it meets your breath, the curl of vapour as it leaves the mouth forming ever so briefly a personal cloud.  
There's a nip to the air that no one wants to mention dare it brings on the A word. Autumn.  It seems spring and summer really are the favoured seasons with autumn falling sad third simply due to it's fading light and proximity to winter. For many that first nip of cool autumnal air is a stirring of memories of going to work in the dark and coming home in the dark, of the outside world seeming bleaker and more distant than usual. Personally I adore autumn, I really do. The change that occurs over the season is astounding, equal to the spring change and just as magical. The garden starts to slip towards slumber as summer folds into autumn and the natural rhythm rolls on, the green of the leaf dulls and flowers turn into seedheads.  
Fortunately I know I'll still be out there everyday experiencing all the shift brings with it, remembering what it is to be weather beaten again. There's no doubt that many a day in the winter months balance up nicely the superb days you get mid year and I know of one garden on the side of a hill that brings a new level to 'exposed to the elements' in which I've been forced to raid the car for any spare and extra layers. However the light you get on fine autumn mornings is something close to perfection (in my eyes)especially as it means you can be out in the garden early enough to see a new day be born. The first touch of Jack Frost cleans the air and can bring on a new beauty to a garden, true some plants may be killed off, I know for gardens that rely on annuals it's a tough time and it spells a change in the veg garden too of course.  
As for now we get to enjoy the pre glimpses of the magic show to come. The change in the garden is both quietly sedate and incredibly rapid, you can see the plants tiring and find a lot of general garden work is taken up with removing seedheads from weeds and cutting back faded leaf growth on many of the more herbaceous elements of the garden. What starts as a perfectly manageable garden soon excides all expectations and can seem to swamp you with work, so much so it's easy to loose sight of the garden as a whole, so busy do we become with our heads down. It's the horticultural equivalent to not being able to see the wood for the trees. As at any time in the garden it's important to feel part of the work you do and by stopping and looking up once in a while you can link that back into the bigger picture. Don't just focus on the one plant to be cut back but look to see how it fits into the garden and the structure that's left behind when it's gone, watch as the shadows lengthen in some areas as the sun dips lower.  
Be momentary lazy, really stop for a cuppa and simply watch the garden whilst you drink.