Having a garden is a great source of happiness to me. There is a constant reminder outside my kitchen window of the power and the delicacy of nature. Wind, rain and sun all take their toll from time to time. But in the right combination, they bring the garden back to life, year after year.
Every day the view is different. While often grim and dull in Winter, the garden treats me to beautiful, almost black and white scenes on mornings where the sun shines through the thick, dark branches of the walnut tree.
Summer and Autumn are the seasons on which I spend most time in the garden – gathering fruit, playing with the children, enjoying a coffee or a meal.
But Spring is my favourite garden season. With each leaf unfurling and each blossom bursting open in the sunshine, there is a feeling of hope and a promise of a good harvest later in the year.
It is no secret that the garden was a selling point of this house. The previous owners tended very well to the garden and planted several fruit trees as well as the massive walnut tree which provides shade for us in the Summer months.
But, good gardeners though they were, they admitted to us that they didn’t really use the fruit. To me, it is incredible that someone would plant pear, plum, apple and fig trees and not eat their fruit. The blossoms are beautiful though.Perhaps that was what inspired them to plant the fruit trees.
Just look at these buds, like scoops of raspberry ripple. With each day that passes between now and August, each of those will inch closer and closer to becoming a sweet, juicy pear. How could you then not eat it?
Further down the garden our herb rockery, planted by the previous owners, is bursting back into life. The rate of growth here at the moment is astounding. Mint, chives and marjoram, having disappeared over the Winter, have sprouted up again and are almost ready to use.
Old, gnarled sage and savory bushes are springing back to life, shooting out fresh green leaves, ready to flavour our next roast chicken or beef stew.
The very bottom of the garden is a love it or hate it area at the moment, spread as it is with a floor of wild garlic (allium ursinum). The flowers are coming out now and the garlicky scent is enough to make your mouth water. Or, in the case of the children, enough to make you hold your nose and go “Ugh”.
Soon the garden will be getting a few new mouths to feed, in the form of chickens. Luckily we seem to be quite well-equipped to deal with the hens. From the research I’ve done, the fig tree is suitable for providing shelter without being pecked to bits. Chickens like kiwis apparently, which is fantastic because we have a very productive kiwi tree.
We’ll run into problems when the berries come out. All my children, but chickens too, love to eat berries. Nastursiums and lavender are favoured by chickens too. I just hope they leave some for me to look at. The herb garden will take a bit of a battering too, with catmint, sage and rosemary being very good for chickens’ health.
On the other hand, swapping some of our abundance of herbs for fresh free range eggs is a good deal. I have a feeling my garden is about to become and ever greater source of happiness.