Margo Roby asks us to ponder on the sense of the land. I started pondering a while back, with a Freewrite on my favourite part of the garden.
The house that we built was cut out of the hill leaving a grassy path behind, one mower’s width high above my head when I’m on the gravel path. Behind that is my favourite part of the garden. I won’t let Jock cut the bank – it’s left wild for flowers. January primroses first sign of renewal; violets, bluebells take over in among the rampant nettles, cow parsley and brambles, which in turn give the wherewithal for blackberry and apple jelly and crumbles; sweetness from the undergrowth. Or should I say overgrowth? Those brambles are snares for passing people, my legs and arms bear the scars. And at the top of the bank, a motley hedge – alder, hazel, chestnut, ash, while cherry and baby hedgerow oaks. The hedge is murdered every few years, providing logs and kindling for free but leaving one tree to grow on every few yards, for shade and to tell us about the wind.
But he can’t cut the hedge yet, a blackbird is raising a brood so reprieve for it all.
Which brings me to the birds – they’ve a right to a bit of wild for homes as we do to our cosy warmth.
And insects – I wonder about the honey some lucky beekeeper harvests from the mixture of pollen we provide (that makes me sneeze, but I don’t care)
At the end of the jungle bank is the re-cycling area, grass cuttings, weeds and kitchen waste slowly mouldering into valuable compost behind Chateau Jock, the shed. Piles of old pots in broken bits saved to use for drainage in other pots and keep the geraniums healthy. On the other side is a great big water tank (black, encased in a mesh of tubing) lurking to steal the roof water from our neighbour’s barn, with his permission of course.
This is the part I appreciate most, despite its utilitarian ugliness, for the goodness it brings to vegetables fruit and formal flowers.
Which led to a shrunken poem extracted from all that verbiage; still far too wordy.
The Cream of the garden
The bank, left wild for birds, insects,
and January primroses,
before violets, bluebells, nettles,
cow parsley and foxgloves.
The hedge, murdered every few years
for winter logs and kindling – a motley thing
of alder, hazel, chestnut, ash,
wild cherry and baby hedgerow oaks;
there’s a hollow stump sprouting hazel hair,
where a blackbird raises a brood in Spring,
becoming hideaway for summer children.
Its brambles give us jelly and crumbles,
sweetness from undergrowth.
Sweetness, too, behind the shed
where grass cuttings, weeds and waste,
moulder undisturbed into compost,
loved by vegetables, flowers, fruit, and me.
Margo’s prompt made me wonder what the land thinks of all this, leading to a new poem :
The sense of the land
It’s good to be left to my own devices,
free of ill-intentioned blades and chemicals,
free to accept what nature sends me
by way of water, sunshine, seeds and birdshit;
free to spread my frondy wings along and aloft
in shade from straggly trees and hedge;
freedom for avian nesters,
Humans, too may share my bounty –
from first flower joy
to berried nourishment,
so long as they leave me be.