The Wheat Will Always Rise
GROWING - I am back in my own garden, at The Flower Bothy. After several months of gardening elsewhere, the venture was brought to an abrupt halt, and I have had to put it down as a business failure. I invested a great deal of time, effort and money, chasing a possible permanent job as a flower growing florist, in someone else's beautiful walled garden. A dream, you might say. To many self-employed people, the idea of being employed is anathema. However, I struggle with the status of self-employment. I am single, and have an 11 year old son, and the sense of responsibility can be overwhelming.
This failure made me realise that I still very much have the critical words of family ringing in my ears. Several years ago, when I could no longer work in my first career and had to leave, their words were harsh and judgemental. I was judged as a failure, had always been expected to fail, and had spent many years fighting failure until I could fight no longer. And yet, I now know that failure is necessary. In our culture it seems we strive to fight against it - we want success - always. My drive to succeed led me to stay in a situation that was clearly not viable, and clouded my better judgement: I worked hard to create a cutting-garden and floristry business on the whim of another, who then of course wanted this exclusively for themselves.
I managed to rescue a very few of my plants from the Walled Garden, to claw back something from the experience. Achillea is such a wondrous plant: grey-green feathered foliage, and in this case, pink gatherings of tiny flowers, brought together in stately flattened profiles. Their haze, in a cottage garden, brings a lovely relief to the other more verbose plants and flowers. I had received these two plants as a gift and decided I would try to transfer them, along with a new (to me) Verbena, back to my garden, just when they were about to peak and flower. Not sensible, and yes, perhaps doomed to fail.
The Verbena clearly looks droopy, despite being soaked in a bucket of water before planting. The Achillea also has suffered. But I am not one to give up. After soaking thoroughly, I planted them into the ground, and added in some fine and crumbly all purpose compost, to ensure there would be little to impede the roots from soaking up water.
I then used foraged twigs to make a support network around the plants, binding the twigs together with string, to add strength.
Of course I would not recommend transferring plants in the middle of their growing season, just as they are about to flower. But sometimes in life we have to uproot ourselves when we do not expect it. These plants were also very healthy before I moved them, and they had a fantastic root system, so I thought it was worth a go. Some of the Verbena however were just too far gone. I therefore decided that I would need to cut some of the worst affected right down, if I was to stand any chance of saving the plant for future years.
Take a look at any garden. In any neglected space, there is always growth. Winter may come and the soil appears to be stripped permanently bare. But of course this is not the case. Deep within, plants have an amazing ability to survive, and wait, unhurried.
It feels so good to be back in my much neglected garden. My garden is not, nor will it ever be a 'Sissinghurst'. But after striving for the perfect dream of living and gardening in a Walled Garden, I am so grateful and so lucky to realise I am already living the dream. In chasing perfection and success, I just didn't notice it.