The Garden Right Now
The thornless blackberry that Ruth gave me last year, which produced nothing but two angry shrivelled little poor excuses for fruit, has benefited from benign neglect. It’s all over the fence like a rash, and covered with luscious sturdy fat pink flowers. I’m already lusting for the berries, hoping at least some of them will ripen before I leave for the US in August.
The loganberry is more likely to yield some fruit by the end of July. The fragile simple white flowers have been opening for several weeks, and although the flowers are still coming, there is quite a quantity of hard green fruit growing day by day. The bees are at it bigtime. Today I waited until one had finished grazing the branches that overhang the path to the compost bin, rather than pushing past – I didn’t want to get stung, but more so, since finding out a bit about their ways, I have some respect for how hard they have to work nowadays to find forage, and want to be a good hostess.
I do as much of my reading and writing as possible outdoors on the bench, surrounded by the aquilegia, which are just going over, and the wineberries, who are still holding their buds tightly closed. The bees love the aquilegia, and the graze the dusty mauve bells, inches away from my face. Some of them are fascinated with the baroque curleques at the base of the petals, crawling around the outside of the flowers, while others do the inside job. Whatever they are doing, it certainly works for the aquilegia, which sow themselves everywhere with prolific abandon.
The recent rain has brought the artichokes back to life. They nearly succumbed to the winter snow; in March I dug up the slimy little heaps of rotten grey leaves that were left and moved them to better soil in a corner where they can catch the morning sun, sitting alongside the mass of crispy brown twigs that was once the thyme: two invalids in a sanitorium. Both the thyme and the artichokes are green again, not putting on much growth, but allowed, if you please, to catch their breath after a near-death experience.
The rocket is almost invisible under the self-sown marigolds, but both seem to be treating their coexistence as a friendly competition to see which can grow the most lush. I pull out a few marigolds every day, just to find the rocket, which is worthwhile doing, as it is sweet and peppery and everything rocket should be. And today I baked bread with a big handful of marigold petals in it.
What is this fascination with the garden? It’s like putting a frame around Life, or an attempt to consciously participate in this miracle that happens every moment, all around us, all by itself. Of course we are participating in it all the time, we can do nothing else, but somehow gardening turns it into a meditation on that sacrament.