How does your garden grow? On optimism!

I have my mum and dad to thank for my optimism.  My mum always sees the best in people, and my dad always makes the best of a bad job.  There is always a bright side, even if you have to wait a while to see it.

This bank holiday has been fairly wet, until I happened to just pop my head out of the back door at about 3pm yesterday afternoon.  There was a fine mist (you know the sort when the rain is just hovering in the air, so you only feel it when you move), so I thought I’d just take a little skip to the greenhouse.  By the time I had had a little fiddle with my seed-trays, the levitating rain had lifted.

I decided to take my spade for a walk.

Often when I’m taking a stroll around the garden I’ll see a buttercup or a dandelion, but don’t attempt to pull it out, as it needs a spade.  Which is locked in the greenhouse.  So taking a walk with a spade with no particular purpose in mind always leads to satisfying results.

Three dandelions, a couple of buttercups and some creeping cinquefoil later, I was happy as a lark.  Three years ago when we moved to this garden, what is now the bright border was covered in a thick mat of creeping cinquefoil.  It spreads by runners, being related to the strawberry, but with the obvious disadvantage of no delicious fruit to devour with cream.  Three years ago I thought I would never get rid of the stuff.  Every time I dug it up, I had to separate out the pieces of root from clay that was claggy enough to spin a pot out of.  If I left any root, it would re-sprout and I’d have a new plant to remove.

But I did it.  I just kept coming back with my spade.

I didn’t know that I would ever get rid of it.  The internet suggested I wouldn’t.  But I have got rid of it enough.  It’s easy to dig up the odd plant every couple of months.

When the sun came out, it was difficult to feel anything other than pure joy.  I spotted a clump of snowdrops that have finished flowering and needed dividing.  I took them down to my Rosa rugosa hedge, as part of my guerilla gardening strategy to take over the allotment!  As I sank my trusty spade into the ground, it gave out the rudest sucking and squelching sound you can possibly imagine.  At this point my stepdaughter came to join me and we both delighted in the delicious disgustingness.

Last year I was worried that this boggy bit of ground would just rot the roots of my roses, but I gave it a go and they seem fine.  I planted five different clematises along the fence behind them, and four of these look dead as a door-nail.  One of them is named ‘Freda’ which I planted for my Gran. I’m not devastated.  She would know there was nothing I could do to protect it from The Beast a few weeks ago.  I can plant another.

Then I went back to the bright border and spotted a phlox I needed to divide.  We had a lovely time hacking it into four peices and re-planting the peices in the rose garden.  My step-daughter was concerned that I had inadvertently spliced a worm in half, but I reassured her that there are plenty more, and worms expect this treatment occasionally.  It’s probably nicer to be cleanly spliced by a spade than tugged at for ten minutes by a blackbird.  We mused on how a worm is just a tube with a mouth at one end and a bum at the other, and how we are pretty much the same, just with a few extra bits attached.

Then we moved some hemerocallis.  I explained to sd that this was the worst soil ever, made largely of builder’s rubble, but that hemerocallis (day lilies) are practically bomb-proof, so it will just shrug its shoulders and grow anyway.

The sun shone; we pottered a bit more.  We splashed around in the pond.  Sadly, no sign of frogspawn, but there was a millipede.  I transplanted a few self-seeded euphorbias, whilst sd played with the millipede.  We picked our first rhubarb, which made a popping sound almost as satisfying as the earlier squelching.

So in an otherwise wet weekend, we will have enjoyed at least two hours of glorious sunshine, and there is still half the long weekend to go.

My weeds are there to show me that hard work pays off.  If you keep coming at them with a spade, you don’t need chemicals.  The weeds that self-seed prolifically show me that my soil is there to support life.  My clay and my bog and my rubble are there to help me learn what can and can’t grow in particular conditions.  If something dies, then it died.  Things die.  I don’t need to berate myself.  If one thing doesn’t work, I can try another.  If it has been miserable and wet all week, then I will enjoy it all the more when the sun comes out.

And rhubarb and custard is the most delicious Saturday pudding ever.

Do you need any help in seeing the bright side?  Do you need forgiveness and absolution for lost plants?  Does optimism go hand-in-hand with gardening?  Or any creative pursuit?  I love hearing your thoughts, and they often inspire new posts!

Hemerocallis 'Summer Wine'
Hemerocallis ‘Summer Wine’

45 Comments Add yours

  1. pommepal says:

    Life is so much better if you look on the bright side. I love your happy optimistic way of gardening Ali. Always tomorrow, never give up. They may all be clichés but they are so true.. Hope you are having a happy Easter.

    1. Ali says:

      Thank you. Happy Easter to you too!

  2. Evelyn Flint says:

    I think optimism definitely goes hand in hand with all creative activities – positive thoughts and energy bring much better results… !

    1. Ali says:

      Yes, I think so. To focus our energies on something that is not required for survival or material gain…to just do something for the joy of it, is creativity.

  3. Kath says:

    So enjoyed walking with your spade its such a lovely feeling getting back to the garden and start to find surprise pop up.

    1. Ali says:

      It is, Kath. It was like a physical sensation yesterday, like I was sprouting!

  4. janesmudgeegarden says:

    Such optimism has got to be contagious. I’m still laughing about the rude clay and the worm!

    1. Ali says:

      😀 We do have fun!

  5. Susan Beard. says:

    Happy Easter holidays to you and your family.

    1. Ali says:

      Thank you, Susan, and to you!

  6. I’m not sure earth worms would agree! ☺ I do love the sentiment though, gardening is such a hope-filled hobby, and also one that teaches us how to accept disappointment too. X

    1. Ali says:

      Yes, there is some debate in the earthworm community this morning!

  7. Tish Farrell says:

    I’m with Pauline (pommepal). Hope and a sense of humour, learning from mistakes, finding a way round annoying circumstances, knowing when to yield to annoying circumstances (as in your getting rid of cinquefoil ENOUGH)…Happy gardening while the rain holds off.

  8. Such optimism is definitely an essential gardening tool, along with patience, perseverance and a HUGE sense of humour! I think gardening is a great metaphor for life and helps us deal with all the ups and downs. Lovely to share your garden moments. Happy Easter, Ali!

    1. Ali says:

      Thank you for taking part, Lis. This is a lovely community!

  9. Optimism, and an open acceptance of life and death, certainly seems to be a critical part of gardening. Thanks for sharing your walk through your garden. Have a wonderful weekend!

    1. Ali says:

      Yes, it all happens in the garden! You can find a metaphor for whatever is going on internally or externally in your life!

  10. bcparkison says:

    We just have to keep at it.Those “weeds”just haven’t been declared beneficial yet.

    1. Ali says:

      You are right! Every weed serves a purpose!

  11. Love your thoughts on the worm, very true. Lovely post.

    1. Ali says:

      Am feeling a little bit bad for the worm, but has maybe gone to a better place!

  12. Ah, a walk with a spade. Long overdue! Another great post. One can’t help looking on the bright side in a garden. #MyGloriousGardens

    1. Ali says:

      Yes, just hearing the birds today was lovely.

  13. Sharon says:

    Great post, thanks for sharing. You might want to give those clematis a few more weeks, they often re-shoot from the base. I’m still waiting for my first rhubarb crumble.

    1. Ali says:

      Thanks Sharon, that is good to know. I was hoping that might be the case.

  14. Island Time says:

    I wish there was a “love” sign to click on, not just a “like”. Thank you for reminding me about the purpose of weeds and rubble and rough bits of garden that need work etc….like a lot of mine does at the moment! Very lovely post, thank you! Happy Easter to you and your family.

    1. Ali says:

      Thank you so much, that is lovely. And Happy Easter to you and yours too!

  15. Heyjude says:

    This is such a lovely post. I usually carry my secateurs into the garden with me, just in case something needs dead-heading or cutting back. I managed a couple of hours too this weekend and cut away all the blackened leaves of my ferns. Thankfully new growth was beneath them. A few tender plants will need to come out (when I get the spade out of the locked shed) and new plants purchased. But like you, I am not going to worry, I shall enjoy looking for something that might enjoy the empty space just as much.

    1. Ali says:

      Yes, secateurs and snippets live by the back door for that reason. It’s sad to lose plants, but makes you appreciate them whilst they last, and a space is an opportunity. X

  16. Robin says:

    I do think optimism and creativity go together although I can’t be sure which one leads to the other. I love your attitude towards weeds and challenges. I should bring that sort of attitude to my garden. 🙂

    1. Ali says:

      Yes, often gardening is seen as a chore, but it doesn’t have to be. So much to observe and enjoy.

  17. Eliza Waters says:

    Gardeners are inherently optimists! We never stop believing in the best outcomes. When something dies, it leaves a spot for something better, in my mind. 🙂

    1. Ali says:

      Yes, in a jam-packed garden, an opportunity arises! X

  18. Rupali says:

    A post full of optimism. I am eagerly waiting for spring blooms. I hope we will have a good season inspite of very long and cold winter.

    1. Ali says:

      Nature has a way of balancing things out, so let’s hope so!

  19. Chloris says:

    You certainly are a cup half full sort of person. But of course gardeners have to be optimists when we watch plants die or get eaten or we plant trees that we will probably never see mature. I planted a Cedar of Lebanon in a previous garden and I like to think of future generations enjoying it. Still a little sun does help with the optimism, this seems to be the year of eternal rain and mud.

    1. Ali says:

      It is very squelchy! I managed to get out for an hour lifting turf earlier. It was easier than when I tried a couple of moths ago and the ground was bone-dry, so that is my half-full thought for the day!

  20. Always look on the bright side of life, essential. Gardening helps me survive the downs.

    1. Ali says:

      Always a useful tune to hum too, Dorris!

      1. Not sure it’s working though.

  21. You are right! Optimism….such a spring like word in our gardens too….the optimism of spring! I love that we can enter our gardens without a job in mind and be diverted by a new plants growth or, as you say, a plant that needs dividing. Such mindfulness right there!
    Thanks for linking this post to #MyGloriousGardens. My round up post will be live soon and I hope to see you next month. Xx

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