Every now and then we get people writing to us saying things like “wow! How do you get your garden to be so perfect and beautiful??”
To us, we get really concerned by this, as our place is far (so far) from perfect, beautiful yes (in our eyes at least), perfect? No, no no. We have more than our fair share of ‘ratty’ piles of stuff in every possible corner, incomplete fencing, annual vegies ravished by slugs and what we call ‘hodge-podge’ solutions left, right and centre.
You see, at the moment, we’re not full time gardeners, rather we have maybe one full day between us in the garden each week. Right now, gardening is something that fits around our teaching commitments, running a small business (think admin and organising), Anton working 4 days at Sustainable Living Tasmania, us needing to prioritise building infrastructure like retaining walls instead of making compost tea (which I’ve been meaning to do for around 3 months, and still haven’t) and me being increasingly pregnant and physically restricted which sees me simply looking at gardening jobs instead of actually doing any of them.
So, to bring those of you who think we’re our own little botanical gardens paradise back down to earth, we give you a grand tour of our imperfections, stuff ups and incomplete jobs. Enjoy!
Sections of our garden look like this – just happily going to seed. And while I’m all for seed saving and allowing some plants to go to flower to attract beneficial insects, we really don’t need as much as we’ve currently got. I don’t bother pulling things out until I’ve got something to replace them with, which I don’t at the moment as I haven’t been amazing at staggering our propagation.
Most of our annual garden beds look like this – left over Winter crops and a whole lotta of unimpressive young Summer crops coming on….
Like these uncomfortably yellow baby cucumbers. They’ll come good soon with a bit of warmth and soil care, but they’re definitely not winning any awards in impressing people right now.
We love our new rain tank…. And would love if even more if it was actually connected to our roof. To be fair, we’ve been researching the right type of pump to get which is quite complicated for our context. The pump determines the types of fittings we get etc, so we’ve had to nut these details out first, which I think we’ve almost done.
Then there was that time that Anton accidentally set the front bank on fire with a spark from the angle grinder. Turns out jute mat (the hessian looking material you can see above) is insanely fire prone, as in ‘we almost burned our house down’ fire prone. That was a stressful moment. As you can see we haven’t quite got around to replacing the plants or weed mat situation. However, tomorrow we’re having a working bee to rectify that, so it’s about to be transformed.
And this unexciting photo is of our young hazelnuts which we’ve just planted out, and which are about to be swamped with grass if we don’t sheet mulch them right now. Again, this is on the cards to do in the next week, but we’ll see – priorities change from moment to moment around here as things creep up and down on the urgency list.
Oh yes, and then we have our incomplete floppy fence, which is actually working just fine in keeping out the wallabies (the main culprits), but the possums and rabbits will find us in the near future so we really do need to get on top of that this season to make sure they don’t.
Our front stairs are beautiful, yet incomplete – you’re starting to get the picture, yeah? We’re running all over the place getting jobs started to the point where things are functional and then we move on to the next thing which needs our attention. We’re aiming for next year to be one of CONSOLIDATION, that’s such a sexy word to us at the moment.
And then there are our glorious and numerous piles of STUFF around the place – all useful I might add, but not necessarily beautiful.
What was meant to be the goat shed (please don’t ask), is now being converted into a propagation and garden tool shed. Which is actually a great re-purposing of it – but not finished as you can see.
And to wrap it up (I could keep going), we’ve got this “stunning” earthship retaining wall we built from old car tyres. Once it was structurally sound and had the base render on, we pretty much walked away from it before putting the ‘beautifying’ render on. The one which makes people go – oh I love it! Instead of – hmmm, interesting finish you’ve chosen there. Eventually it’ll be a nice earthy ochre colour and the grassy bank above it will be landscaped and have grape vines growing along it. Eventually.
So there you go folks, that’s us – warts and all. But we’re ok with that, because amongst all this ‘messy and unsuccessful’ stuff there are a million lessons being learned, new ideas being stumbled upon, laughter, and a home full of love being established. Right now just happens to be a particularly crazy time for us – but I have no doubt (none at all) that even when gardening is more of a full time role for us that we’ll always have piles of useful, ‘ugly’ stuff lying around and that there’ll be an impressive list of half done jobs needing finishing and that we’ll still stuff up every now and then.
As one of our good market gardening mates, Suzi says – gardening is never finished, never perfect and always in flux. As Suzi’s one of the best annual growers I know, I take comfort in these wise words and love the fact that when ever I visit her, there’s always something being changed, dug up, moved etc – it’s never perfect, but she gets pretty darn close to it I reckon.
So here’s to aiming to being ‘almost perfect’. May we be kind on ourselves and one another in this ongoing, ever-changing journey.