I know. Gardening hasn’t featured on this blog for ages (not even pictures of the summer abundance !). Its title is starting to feel embarrassingly misleading. I sometimes think of dismembering it into several better-focused blogs. Musings and considerations on writing could be added to Constellation, which is a personal anthology, whereas the Gardening Diary could be developed as posts rather than telegraphic lines on a single page. It would probably show a better consideration for the reader.

I knew from the beginning this blog looked a bit confused in its organisation, but the point of it was less to talk seeds and compost than to explore the connection between gardening and writing through the lens of my own experience, and more generally the impact of gardening on my life. Funnily enough, it was during the two years I spent back in Paris, without a garden, that I thought and wrote most about that, notably through an unpublished novel and poems. I now find myself less able to reflect on this link and this impact. The weakness of my memory, often mentioned as it worries me, may account for the fact that things are less clear now : I have now been gardening for long enough not to remember accurately how things were before. I do still know that gardening changed my life, uprooting some of the deep sadness of my younger years. Becoming a Christian and becoming a gardener were the two parallel conversions that led me to a more peaceful, maybe a more confident self. Things broke down to a more humble and honest compost. The etymological link between “human” (“earthly being”, as opposed to the gods) and “humus” (from which humility more obviously comes) seems too good to be true, but it makes sense. Did I dream of becoming a great tree, rising and spreading as dawn on the mountain side, vibrating with birdsong, crackling in the summer heights ? The truth is I am much more alike to that brown stuff among the roots, from which mushrooms sprout for a day and disappear the next, blind, shapeless, lost in a pictureless dream, unable to know myself, yet somehow warm, fertile, quiet yet maybe powerful.

Unable I might be to reflect on gardening at the moment, but I am still doing the thing. After an October month which seemed to dissolve under a veil of steady rain, this sunny November is a blessing I am grateful for. I have been spending most of the last two weeks planting bulbs in pots, potting up and moving plants around (including acer palmatum Katsura which, after a growth spurt, had outgrown its spot), ever puzzled that such a small plot can absorb so many hours of my time. It makes me consider my dream of a big garden with a smile of circumspection. I would probably disappear for days and only turn up at the door when hunger could no longer be suffered, crowned in spiders and twigs, in an armour of muddy clay, a female version of Radagast the Brown. In truth, I look like that already after a day devoted to ivy business, which always needs to be tackled with consideration for the green bin collection day. It is with reluctance that I am slowly getting rid of the ivy which brought me nesting birds over the years, but the fence is rotting (and I mean falling apart) and, lacking space, I refuse to surrender a third of the borders to the ever growing monster. I know of neighbours who seem to be able to keep their ivy flat against the fence, but I haven’t sussed out their secret.

And so, these last days, I was a bit shocked to find myself entertaining a radically new sort of thought : I may have too many plants. I know. I did check my temperature. Then I realised : is it possible that I might be growing up (maturing ?) as a gardener ? I may have reached the point where the urge to fill the space with every plant under the sun recedes and considerations of harmony and rhythm in volumes take the centre stage. Somebody once said to me that my garden was more like a botanical garden, and I did take it as a compliment even though I knew well that it could be understood otherwise. Plants interest me individually, I want to see how they live, how they will behave in my particular setting, and I don’t tend to use them for overall effect (don’t talk to me about “bedding”). I also have the bad habit of taking cuttings of everything, just to see if, even though I have no idea where they could go. But now… Well, plants tend to grow, don’t they. It’s starting to look too busy for my liking. Oh dear, where is this going to lead me ?

21 thoughts on “A gardening blog supposedly

  1. Frog,
    L’heure est au bilan, la nature exulte, elle gagne toujours.
    J’adore ton rapport au jardin que je découvre de manière plus intime.
    Je te suis depuis assez peu de temps et un peu en dents de scie due à ma longue absence.
    Mais je reste traversée par ton écriture qui est un éblouissement.
    Pour revenir sur ta volonté de mettre de l’ordre dans ton blog, je pense comme toi que vient le moment de mettre de l’ordre dans cette profusion de sens et de sentiments.
    J’ai la même sensation avec mon blog, il faut que je mette beaucoup d’ordre mais je manque cruellement de temps, mon travail et la vie de famille m’accaparent.
    Il faudrait mettre dans le blog une petite affichette ” vitrine en cours” ou “fermeture exceptionnelle pour travaux”.
    je pense que je finirait par faire cette démarche pour me donner le temps de bouger tous les meubles dans la joie.
    Bonne soirée
    Corinne

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    1. Merci Corinne de ta lecture et de ton commentaire ! Nous avons effectivement en commun d’aborder divers sujets dans nos blogs. J’y ai repensé et, comme les autres fois où j’ai eu le désir de diviser mon blog pour lui donner cet air de sobriété ordonnée qui me plait dans d’autres sites, je crois que je vais laisser les choses telles qu’elles sont. Nos blogs sont le reflet de ce que nous sommes, contrairement à d’autres blogs spécialisés. Ton blog en particulier, je trouve, est une image de toi, de ta personnalité vive, joyeuse, curieuse de toutes les formes d’expression culturelle. Il ne s’agit pas seulement de musique, de cuisine ou de lecture, au fond, mais de toi et de la chaleur de ton coeur, de ton envie de partage. Je te remercie de ton compliment pour mon écriture – contrairement à toi, je ne sais rien faire d’autre qu’écrire et jardiner, et j’espère les faire bien.

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      1. Frog,
        Merci pour ton commentaire, je suis très tentée par ta vision, je pense que je vais aussi laisser les choses comme elles sont 😉
        Je ne m’attendais pas à tous ces compliments, je te remercie beaucoup. J’essaie de rester naturelle, et de toujours partager, comme tu le dis si merveilleusement, ” avec la chaleur de mon cœur”…
        Très bonne soirée
        P.S: je suis certaine que tu fais plein d’autres choses bien chère Frog 😉
        Corinne

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  2. Talk to Mrs Turnstone if you want overplanting advice. The tired lilac has been supplanted by a John Downie crab from Brogdale. She’s thinking of a legacy to whoever lives here next! It won’t form a shapeless clump at least. The lilac had been there for some 30 years, a rescue from a garden I used to look after opposite the hospital.

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    1. Hello Will ! Are you saying Mrs T likes overplanting too ? I googled your new crab apple, what a beauty ! I’d love one, but as I already have a crinodendron hookerianum, a choisiya I am trying to grow as a standard, a potentilla fructicosa and a white buddleia grown from a cutting, all of which I have no space for… L. wants to install a big shed that would deprive me even more of growing space. Luckily, he has no time to do that. 😉

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      1. Shed? L should know it would not be his for long; ours is all but inaccessible. Only thing on hooks can I reach, and that requires a foot in the door! Maybe next door’s new shed with doors opening inward at least allows him to get in there! On the other hand, ours is handy for picking and pruning the apricot tree. And you could insist on a green roof, all those sedums you promised yourself.

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        1. I think L has a sort of work studio in mind, but with bikes, gardening tools and the rest, I have my doubts. He mentioned the green roof in the hope of convincing me, but I can’t imagine it – would it need to be a flat roof ? I can’t stop him from dreaming about this project but am hoping it doesn’t happen too soon as I would have to sacrifice plants. He says he knows the minute the shed happens, I will steal it from him to use it as a writing spot. 😀

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  3. J’aime bien l’exubérance folle de ton blog ! Il est pour moi exactement à l’image que je me fais des jardins anglais : denses, libres, un fouillis savamment désorganisé, qui laisse la nature libre de nous surprendre et dans lequel j’aime à me perdre… il est dans tous les cas un lieu d’une folle poésie !

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    1. Merci beaucoup Esther ! D’ailleurs, comme je le disais à Corinne, à chaque fois que je me dis qu’il faut que j’organise mieux mon blog (c’est-à-dire que j’en retire la moitié), je renonce. J’aime beaucoup ton analogie et je crois que tu as raison, le jardin à la française n’est pas dans ma nature, bien que je l’apprécie beaucoup. Je crois que le problème se pose surtout pour les quelques personnes non francophones qui me suivent pour le jardinage et n’ont peut-être pas envie d’être bombardés de textes en français n’ayant rien à voir avec l’horticulture.

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  4. I understand the impulse to take cuttings of plants… free plants! But it is also like a science experiment, just to see if I am successful. Is it really as easy as Monty Don would lead me to believe? I have about 75 cuttings in little pots I’m testing to see if they’ll overwinter in my way-too-small flimsy 2 foot wide greenhouse. Of course I have no idea where most will ever be planted, but it is a fun problem to have!

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    1. You are right, as problems go, the over-growing of cuttings is a desirable one ! I share your view of it as a scientific experiment. 75 cuttings ! I bet your garden is much bigger than mine (that’s not hard, as you can see in the picture, only a terraced-house little plot). Is your greenhouse a plastic one like mine, or a proper glass greenouse? Thank you anyway for reading me ! 🙂

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  5. When I was younger I always wanted a large garden but as time has passed by our gardens have shrunk! Now we only have a small back yard with a couple of borders but there are lots of pots, even for vegetables although they are now all gone. Just a few salad leaves left, but they won’t survive now the winter gales are amongst us!
    You have many blogs which I’ve not yet read and I’m looking forward to that. I put a PS on a comment you made to me, that Ludovic Janvier’s book ‘Into the Light’ had arrived. The translation into English is with the author’s collaboration which is brilliant. I note that there are other books in the collection; I must check the titles. Again, thank you for highlighting the book 😘

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  6. Si je ne te connaissais pas un tout petit peu, je dirais que tu fais de la pêche aux compliments. Car il n’y a rien à changer ni à ton jardin ni à ton blog.

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    1. Thank you Katya ! I had to mention my blog in a job application recently, and was struck by my feeling of embarrassment – it really doesn’t look / read like a professional thing. But then that’s because it isn’t and was never meant to be. I don’t think I would have the discipline to respect those boundaries between categories and I would end up introducing confusion in each separate blog ! 🙂

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