Muddy seeds for healing

When life turns you over and your direction changes, sometimes, good things come out of the chaos. Sometime in late 2015, I started writing a post that I couldn’t publish about how it had not turned out to be the year I thought it would be. Serious illness had stopped me in my tracks in February. I wrote,

This new, rugged terrain is difficult to navigate but I am beginning to get a feel for the landscape I’ll be hobbling through and how long it’s going to take to get back to the path I left in February. Will I end up back where I peeled off though? Time will tell.

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I can see now that I was trying to put a positive gloss on what was an incredibly painful time, with worse to come. Below is an extract from that post that tells of the enforced slowness and what it eventually brought me. However, my private diaries talk of “crawling into the garden” and “made ten steps today and planted calendula, cried” and “the pain is so awful I want to crawl out of my skin, even for a minute”. How different our public and private lives are. How hard it is to share physical and emotional pain. Instead I wrote,

One bonus of enforced slowness is that I’m too weak to garden in the way I normally do. Instead, I have embraced again the great pleasure of making a garden from packets of seed. This winter in my own garden we had laid paths between patio and house, dug tons of compost into the grey, clay soil and barrowed in 9 tons of top soil to bring the borders up to planting height. And there they sat. My husband and our boys rolled up their sleeves and planted the few shrubs and precious perennials that have been surviving in pots for five years and have taken off like cattle loosed from their pens in May. Nearly everything has survived my neglect and I’m so happy to see them flourishing.

Since then, I have been adding little sprinkles of seed to make the garden. It’s a glorious way to garden. Cup of tea in hand, I take a packet of seed, run my hands through the soft tilth, pour out the tiny grains and rub them through the soil. Then I sit back and sip my tea, watching the birds come and go. If the soil isn’t already damp from a rain shower (oh bliss) I fill up a child’s watering can and water in my new seeds. The days go by, the sun shines, the rain mists and the seeds grow. That’s it. No struggle, no effort. Just plants doing what plants do best. It is the antithesis of instant gratification and everything about trusting nature.

I adore the impact of a Helianthus salicifolius that goes from a pinch-seed that could be mistaken for specks of dust to a towering 6ft of willowy green which will be topped of by a firework of yellow flowers in late summer. Or Tithonia rotundifolia ‘Torch’, a staggeringly impressive sunflower that in a few short months can provide scale and impact unmatched by many of our stalwart garden shrubs.

Then there are the small delights – ranunculus emerging under the daphne, a tiny hellebore in amongst the rocambole. And this week I’ll be direct sowing dark stemmed dahlias, purple sprouting broccoli for its pillowy form and cheery cosmos. Each day I add a little more. Each day I get a little better. From little things big things grow.

Now in April 2019, I’m once again sowing seeds into cleared earth in the garden. The twiggy shrubs I wrote about have matured and stand waist high, the trees are making their presence felt. This summer I will watch the garden rise up around me and celebrate being alive.