At last the weather is calm and still; a welcome respite from days filled with howling winds and bitter cold rain. Night times have been spent trying to identify the crashes and clashes that rip through the darkness and pound my already befuddled mind. These uncontrollable elements have brought my enthusiasm for gardening to an abrupt halt.
I had planned to move the fruit trees on my allotment to a new position. Right at the front, where the sun shines the brightest, I intend to construct a frame on which I can train my fruit trees as espaliers. This method of growing encourages good yields in small spaces. I will under-plant my trees with herbs such as chives whose pungent aroma is rumoured to keep scab at bay.
Around the edges of my plot I am planning my cut flower borders. Obelisks of hazel will provide support for sweet peas that punctuate plantings of tulips, lark spur, rudbeckia and roses. Structures and tall plants will enhance the feeling of enclosure I seem to be craving. That’s the problem with allotments, they lack the warm, strong embrace that makes a walled kitchen garden so alluring.
I can only hope that my natural enclosure will survive the most destructive of elements; the wind. Blustering out of nowhere, picking up speed, twisting and turning it is a force out of control. We try to harness it and turn it into energy, we try to protect against it, we try to predict its movements but to no avail, the wind is a true free spirit.
We are pretty adept at channelling the other elements in our gardens. Water, so versatile, provides movement, reflection and sound. We scape the land to meet our requirements and grow the plants we chose in the places we desire them.
Fire too features in many gardens, including my own. I love a good fire. So much so I am writing this whilst sitting in front of a warming blaze in the comfortable warmth of my lounge. The log that is burning sits on a bed of red hot coals; the edges are all burnt to charcoal and I know that if I poke it, stoke it and disturb it I will be rewarded with a leap of flickering flames. But I don’t want to. The gentle glow is soporific and good. I am lulled into a peacefulness I have no desire to change. If the wood catches I will delight in it, an unexpected moment of enchantment. But for now, I will leave things be; the fire, the garden, the evening, the now. For often the best things are those that have escaped our control, the mountains, the meadows and waterfalls, the very aspects of nature that inspire us, are beautiful without us.
(Apologies if you now have a slightly annoying song stuck in your head!)