Exciting times in the garden!


and now:


– which made my day yesterday and will be such a joy over the summer!

There were a lot of stages – Spade and Sparrow did the heavy clearing

STA46094and left it to overwinter and settle. All I’ve managed to organise since has been replacing the cardboard mulch and a little pruning back. I had a couple of ‘seeing’ sessions where I took time to sit and think about what I wanted, but also what the land wants – this is why I call my approach landspirit rather than permaculture, though I use permaculture techniques. Being still and seeing what happens in a space is really important if you want

STA45688to work with the existing patterns and bring out the best in a situation.

The new bed is very central, at a crossroads between different kinds of leisure, growing food, growing flowers, badminton, with paths on two sides used by us and the posties, a slabbed area for the bbq and container garden, access to the carpark, access to the drying yard…

Something I feel the whole garden lacks is a good place to sit and chat. This is a lot to do with being in a city, people stealing garden furniture and not wanting to encourage the sex workers already using our garden and yard…Lots of houses on our street have electronic gates and I get why, but the truth is the more we use the garden, the less others will.

STA45091The constant difficulties and obstacles to getting the raised bed in motion had made me question if it should happen at all (the phrase ‘pushing the river’ came to mind 🙂 ) but every time I am in the   garden and feel the joy of its return to colour and


bounty (wildlife and harvest and enjoyment) I feel sure it wants more human presence, not less.. more domestic everydayness anyway!

This is the kind of thing that you either get or you don’t!  And the truth is, you can be a great steward of the land without feeling this. But some extra layer of ‘happening’ tends to occur when listening to the spirit of place, some bonuses come in as though on rails when I engage this process. I feel very convinced by it, because after a lot of work turning round my derelict and poisoned allotment, I saw the results, bushels of healthy fruit and veg, herbs for tea and scent or strewing, bees galore, the pollination rates of the allotmenteers near me shot up… Even the old guys had to concede my ‘messy’ ways worked 😉

STA45096Coming back to the garden here, there needs to be an acknowledgement of the transition from kitchen garden to purely ornamental/badminton lawn. The rockery is huge, as long as a tennis court and a couple of metres wide at the narrow end. It has beautiful mature trees and lovely rocks with fossils in and interesting marbled chunks and then a lovely array in July of foxgloves, feverfew, spirea, liquorice agastaches and flowering stonecrops, with alkanet and lush foliages… So looking from my rollator along the curving length of the bed towards the drive, seeing only logs on the raised bed edges would jar.

DSC_0018-001Instead we went on an expedition rounding up materials from all corners to make a bed that can be a heart centre. Ben suggested pulling some of the rocks lost under ivy from the super dry shady bank that is the front boundary, David found a huuuge sandstone boulder on the edge of the drive and I found big chunky pieces of tree trunk in the wood pile.

DSC_0032David then worked really hard, digging postholes and a channel to support yorkstone slabs on their sides, wedging and shuffling rocks, logs and slabs until it all looked really harmonious. I had suggested that the biggest log, which gets used as a seat on bbq nights became the edge of the bed nearest the slabbed area, and that the boulder made the corner between the rockery and the badminton lawn, and the upright slabs next to it echoed the path, but David had lots of fun choosing where to mingle rocks and tree trunks and big branches 😉 Yes, he ached all over when he stopped!

DSC_0050DSC_0042DSC_0040DSC_0061DSC_0063Called back to view progress I was so touched: a big seawashed chunk of chalk we had used as the top of a miniature quoit in the garden in Hucknall has been put at one corner and the copper, steel and stone mobile that hung near it were fitted in to the corner! So lovely of David to think of this! I put an amethyst and some hyacinths (Andy’s favourites) there too. They had emptied compost from the bin round the corner and the empty container garden over the cardboard and horse manure, so with a bit more topping up, I’ll be all ready to plant 🙂

There will be rose bushes and hyssop for the bees in the centre and then beans, squash and tomatoes roundabout, though I might sneak beetroot and lettuce in to catch crop 🙂

Being able to dream gardens again is so satisfying! And with all that sorted I feel more connected and committed to tending the rockery, which has been possible but not an attractive option when it meant walking past all the  looming ‘beyond my strength’ reminders. It has been a gap, a lost friend even…I feel gardening to be an integral part of my life, my healing, my politics, my art, being at home in the world, a place where the balance finds itself and energy flows… paying attention to my changed capabilities means I have to listen even harder now. Working  with neighbours who have never worked this way before was a challenge! This garden that is a woodland edge in a city needs to be a place where we can play to all our strengths, and yesterday, we did 🙂