(WARNING: photo-heavy post!)
You think gardening is for oldies, don’t you?
Go and visit a big garden in your area, a park, a stately home if you have one nearby. As you wander round, take the time to look at the flowers, plants and trees. Take the time to appreciate the long vistas the designers have laid out for you to enjoy. Think about why each plant has been positioned exactly there in the scheme.
Who has walked this path before you? What is their story? Read ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’ if you can’t think of something better, or watch ‘Downton Abbey’ to clue you in to what might have happened in a garden like this, the secret assignations between the lady of the house and the gamekeeper, the Lord and the scullery maid, or the married gentry who came to visit for shooting weekends in winter, eager to continue their private affairs without their spouses knowing, stealing away into the shady nooks of the different garden ‘rooms’.
As for public parks, well, imagine all the spies who have met their KGB handlers by the duck pond, the mothers who have pushed their prams through the rose beds and contemplated running away from loveless marriages, the children who have imagined faeries and elves in the trees.
If writing is not your thing, you only have to look at what Monet did with his garden at Giverny to see that gardens can be an endless source of inspiration for visual artists of all kinds. Maybe your garden flowers could inspire a colourful quilt or embroidery. There is so much beauty in your back garden and local park – all you need to do is use your eyes.
What about getting your fingers in the soil yourself? Gardening is a true art form. It allows you to create a complete world within the four hedges of your back yard. You might prefer growing vegetables to flowers, in which case, google ‘potager kitchen gardens’ to see how amazing kitchen gardens can be.
There is nothing like actually getting down to business with the mulch and seeds. Yes, it is often hard work, and it takes time and patience, but it is so incredibly rewarding, creative and satisfying. Even if you just have a tiny balcony or window ledge, you can fill it with pots of colourful bedding plants and grow-your-own lettuce varieties. Go to any Mediterranean village, and you’ll see what marvels of gardening can be achieved with a few old olive oil cans, some white and blue paint, and some bright geraniums!
And once the hard work is done, you can get out your deck chair, and muse. And then maybe paint a picture or write a story about your green empire.