For me, the garden is…

A place to be creative

A place to reflect

A place to heal

A place to wile away the hours with my little girl

A place to grow veges

A place to hang out my washing

A place to pick bindis

When I had the miscarriage in July, the only instinct I had to go on was to get into the garden, and shovel red soil from one end to the other. The urge was primal. On my knees, I scraped soil with my bare hands. The project was a flower garden.

Our backyard has gone from jungle to sparse bindi-covered lawn in a matter of months, and now I am planting, and regenerating. Giving it life once more. We inherited it from my Grandma Joyce, whose philosophy was to grow and let grow. Her garden always flourished… with herbs, hibiscus, poinciana and poinsettia. As she aged, it became too much for her to do anything in the garden except sprinkle seeds into pots and water them every day. Mr Clifford had passed away years ago, and her son, who was  in charge of mowing the grass, could never seem to do the job to Joyce’s high expectations.

Joyce’s garden was always synonymous with her. At her request, I painted her coffin, and I chose to paint her favourite flowers, or flowers that we collectively decided represented her.

When we moved in to Joyce’s house last September, the garden was my first project. A night-blooming jasmine had taken over and swallowed an entire part of the backyard. It had become entangled with ivy, and the two plants grew over several trees. There was a thick carpet of ferns, and in parts, jasmine and ferns had grown wild together. In some ways, it was beautiful. But the down-side was that half the garden had disappeared.

An enormous poinciana shaded most of the garden.  In a storm one night, its largest branch collapsed. Two days later, Elfie and her little friend were playing in the garden with dollies. They came over to where my friend and I were sitting, and within seconds, a second branch fell from the tree exactly where the girls were playing. A frightening near-miss. Sadly, we cut the tree down. Its trunk provided us firewood, and now the rustic border of a vege patch. The other consequence of the poinciana is that in its shade, no grass grew, only a thick carpet of bindis, which Elfie quickly discovered, are very unpleasant. Hence our latest challenge…

The garden is the place that Elfie and I can play side by side, for hours. Slathered in sunscreen and usually without a nappy, Elfie explores endlessly. The vege patch border is her train, and the wheel barrow her carriage. Her current obsession is watering plants, since we bought her a small, red watering can. We play, we discover, we create. Although our garden is not the prettiest place in the world, made from found objects and remnants from Joyce’s life, I think it is my favourite place for the sanctuary it provides.

Our garden has been my sanctuary and my healer. What is gardening to you? Please share your favourite gardening moments with us.

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