Does your garden rejuvenate you? Can you start out feeling troubled about something; but as you wander around planting, weeding, harvesting, watering, does a feeling of peace and contentment come over you? Do you feel yourself slowing down, breathing deeply, tuning in with the singing of a bird, the wind sighing in the trees?
I recall a very special garden I had the privilege of encountering in 2012, quite the thing of beauty already in May of that year. The striking entrance through the deer fence a mystic star with poles sweeping up teepee style. Whoever originally designed the garden chose to shape the beds in a configuration of an Egyptian ankh. The cross piece in this case circles around several large stones, which warm up the immediate beds to speed up growing time by a few weeks. In May, beds of kale and brussel sprouts had over wintered from the previous season.
The circling raised beds making up the arms of the cross, consisted of three rows of raspberries – in spring just recently leafing out and brilliantly green; with an inner bed added while I was there, separating it from the inside row of raspberries to create another vegetable bed. I busied myself during my stay, putting in coriander, beets, radish, quinoa, broccoli, a patch of sunflowers for sprouting and another patch hopefully to see yellow heads bobbing. Bending and squatting, dropping in each tiny seed it’s easy to fall into a meditative rhythm. I found a fellow volunteer, Ollis, entranced by the whole community of bugs, ants and worms he had disturbed turning up a rock, all living harmoniously in the cool rich earth.
The other arm of the cross had a wide bed of strawberries – all looking by early June like they had been putting out new energy as the days lengthened and warmed. At the end of the strawberry “patch” a lilac bush, promised soon to be in bloom. The inner wide bed was again a vegetable patch with a plum tree at one end – under which I put in a few nasturtium and onion sets. I spent a while putting in two varieties of beets giving them a longer season by covering with a small moveable greenhouse in the fall. Had I had more time with this garden, I planned more vegetables to go in over the month of June.
The legs of the cross being more shaded were established borders of perennial beds of blackberry, grape and asparagus on one side and more strawberries on the other. A bed of blueberries, and many beds of kale, chives, garlic, lettuce, collards, spinach, tatzoi, sorrel, oriental greens, amaranth and more kale were already in the works by June, with plans for tomatoes, cucumber, zucchini and squash. What abundance!
Although the area of this garden’s location is the side of a mountain which nature didn’t originally plan to be a garden, one would never know it now after many years of building up the soil. On arrival in early May, I turned in horse manure, from the hard working Taloume, and compost. Everything of course organically grown so no worries as far as chemicals and fertilizers.
Taking out a few weeds and adding in some rows of greens toward the end of one day, as the shadows lengthened I was grateful for my sense of well being and for the quiet concentration of another volunteer, Jan-Michael, helping with some transplanting. Listening to the ch cchchcchc ch ch of the irrigation nozzles from the patio over supper; seeing the robins flitting in, I recall being assured of the garden’s ability to heal through the food it offered up and through the work it required, not only for that season of 2012, but for many a future season