By Nicola Kawana
Officially, we are in winter! And with the icy blasts making their way up to the country, it surely does signal a new season. But, I’m not sure if we can continue to mark out the seasons according to the calendar. My giant pear tree has barely shed it’s leaves and I still have a basil forest in my teeny raised planter box. Bees are still buzzing in and out of the lavender, though a little more lazily. Much to the delight of the fat bellied praying mantises who catch them with ease.
When I was a kid the seasons seemed to adhere to their given months. None of this wearing a woolly jumper in summer and peeling back to a singlet in mid-winter. Things were more predictable, we could find comfort and guidance in the almighty kitchen calendar.
These days, my gladioli are about to burst into flower, again. I know I should have lifted their corms and tucked them in the shed for a winter lie down after their summer display but, well, there are so many things to do out there, which reminds me, my dahlia tubers are still in situ. The spring bulbs under the pear have sent out their lanky green spears. This act of rebellion has been going on for a few years now. Didn’t daffodils used to politely wait until spring to appear? Not in this backyard. There’s no point trying to march them into order. It just doesn’t work, unless you want to do weird and creepy things to them. And frankly, I’m not that kind of gardener. I’m not saying I don’t primp and preen, it’s just that I like to take my lead from what is unfolding naturally.
This is the true wonder of nature. It asks us to observe rather than impose our own wants and needs. I want and need food, I want flowers and a variety of foliage. I want my garden to look pretty, I want healthy soil and I want that army of green looper caterpillars to be taken by an icy blast and leave my leafy greens alone. Most of the above happens at some stage regardless of my efforts, but not always within my preferred time frame. Having a great garden is part planning, part care and lots of letting it unfold as it will.
My garden is my daily spiritual practice, full of guidance and meaning. All of life unfolds there. There is a constant cycling and recycling, little battles are won and lost everyday. The mantises munching bees, the bees getting it on with the flowers, the magic act of germination and the inevitable death of an annual.
You know the old saying ‘if you don’t go within you go without’. Observing this seasonal change tells me that it’s time to retreat and reflect and rest. Apart from the ongoing feeding, weeding and mulching, that’s what my garden will be doing for the next wee while.
Meanwhile I’ll try not to check the Met Service multiple times a day, and I won’t be checking my gardens movements against the calendar. I’ll wait for a sign that something needs a prune, or the leaves need raking and until then I’ll continue cutting down my basil forest for homemade pesto.