In the Belly – Feb Thoughts

 

There’s something very kind and gentle about the light in February.

 

Chrysanth in Glow

 

I’m inspired to avoid my beastly lists of jobs TO DO, in favour of a loving list of habits to form. Like wandering around in the lengthening evenings, plucking hapless green shoots from the spots where they shouldn’t be…

(Gardening can be terribly violent at times, can’t it?)

This month of course is the month of love, and mysterious ancient rites of deep-cleaning the homes, hearth and heart. It is the month when the lambs arrive, bleating and gambling and tripping over themselves with new-born joy. It is the month when we might see the sun again, if only to kiss our noses and briskly hurry back into its winter bed.

 

 

It is a gentle, beautiful month. Joyful birthdays, (is anything sweeter than the gift of sisters?), and Nirvana Day, and Pancake Day, and the beginning of Lent.

We have moons with names like Ice Moon, Snow Moon, Storm Moon, but the frozen nights still offer up a cool-silk cushion of constellations on display, so we can look up and wonder. Venus has already caught me by surprise several afternoons this week – look out for her dancing round the moon before 9pm most nights this month. She’s got her eye on you…

Things happen slowly in these parts. Our snowdrops haven’t burst, our Daffodils barely lifting their necks. But there’s still signs of life.

February’s beauty lies in its discrete and subtle art. I’m a big fan.

 

All photos by Notes from a Compulsive Gardener

Seasonal absence

I’ve missed two whole seasons from my notes here.

I spent winter pulling old roots out of stubborn clay (that’s so much quicker to write that it was to do) and managed to clear a pretty large area- which is being transformed into the new vegetable and herb garden.

I was going to write a flippant post about a fall I had in Spring (April Fool!), but actually I’ve realised I probably should have learnt a bit of a lesson from that.

Compulsive gardening may be relatable to most plant people – getting obsessive about things is par for the course. But I feel a huge responsibility for this garden – for reclaiming it, for correcting the balance between the wildlife and the people who live and share it. Sometimes I think the compulsive aspect of the work isn’t as wholesome as it seems.

I think… as vicious cycles go, taking it for granted that it’s just how you are isn’t necessarily that great. I fell over in April because I went out into the garden too soon after a bout of flu, I fell awkwardly and couldn’t really move my shoulder properly for 8 weeks. So then, obviously, the first day it didn’t hurt like @~*#! I was out there again, trying to make up for lost time.

I started to realise just how many injuries I’m actually carrying. Somehow, I don’t think it’s normal to have this much trouble getting up off the floor…

Funnily enough, I was probably saved by The Moss Garden.

I started this little project a while ago, and apart from weeding I don’t put much into it because it’s a slow burner. But before I was fully back from injury, I could go down there and just fiddle about.

You can’t muscle-through moss work. It’s about watching where you step and micro-weeding. It’s also about being very close down to the earth, and moving as lightly as you can.

Working in this shaded, damp, hidden little spot, with its totally different micro-climate and its fuzzy velvet floor (balding, but beautiful), I noticed one day that I was not in terrific pain – my back, my joints, my chest – when I was working softly in the moss garden, I felt rather nice.

Maybe it’s not a coincidence that this also happens to be an area where my expectations are nil. I know the moss will take years to establish. I know nothing here can be rushed along – I can’t really influence it, whether I work hard or not, it just is. And I think there’s a correlation between how my body feels, how I work, and the expectations I have going into the job… (I also suspect this is all rather basic information to other people – those strange people who can do things in moderation, who know how to relax and enjoy things – who are doubtless in reasonably good nick, both above and below the neck).

So. There we go. I have missed two seasons of notes, but I’m deliberately not going to worry about it. This compulsive gardener is trying to learn how to, like, not compulse?

But I will be back to posting, and I am really looking forward to catching up with all your news I’ve missed (so apologies if you get some new comments on some very old posts of yours!)

I will be posting before-and-progress shots of the new area. I was waiting to come back online until it was finished, but that’s silly. This is a long project, and I might get some invaluable advice as it goes along.

Sneak preview of before shots

The twisting Snowberry and the voracious, 6-foot Buddleia

(Which, incidentally, already had a chop before these photos were taken – it’s really not a job you can do among ‘other things’ – you have to just go at it, every day, until it’s over, otherwise you just thicken the bushes and make the job even worse!).

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Nope… even looking at it is making me feel queasy. I need a strong pot of coffee…