Tuesday, 25 August 2009
A Garden Day
I spent most of yesterday toiling in the garden. Having suddenly noticed the state it had lapsed into - thanks to my recent habit of heading for the butterfly-rich Surrey Hills every time the sun appeared - I realised it was high time I got down to work. So I set about cutting back the would-be jungle - the previous owners planted the garden with the fastest-growing plants available to man, which ensures a pleasingly sheltered aspect and semi-wild look, but also entails much work with shears, loppers and secateurs. Naturam expellas furca, as the poet said, tamen usque recurret (translation: Get off your lazy arse and into the garden). I also tackled dirtier work in clearing accumulations of plant detritus, and restoring some kind of order in an area at the bottom of the garden that, hidden from view, had degenerated into a chaos of pots and compost and half-dead remnants of plants - and a wildly popular resort hotel for the local slugs and snails. Much transformation was achieved, and it was a day well spent - in a far larger sense, I felt, than the utilitarian. Is there any activity more therapeutic - both physically and spiritually - than gardening? Walking comes close, but walking encourages thought, whereas gardening, I find, has a delightful cleansing effect, wiping the mind clear of all but the work that is literally at hand, and the immediate sights and sounds and earthy, vegetal smells. Annihilating all that's made to a green thought in a green shade - if it is even a thought... Garden work feels like a primal, deeply healing activity. Certainly, having started the day conscious of the background mumble of vague undefined malaises,physical and mental (I believe it's known as the human condition), I ended it physically tired, sweaty and dirty, but deeply, richly satisfied, and with all those unformed woes put to flight. Tending a garden is surely what we were put on earth to do. The rest is noise.