The down filled slippers are on and my feet are still cold. I forgot to turn the heat up this morning and now the chill just won’t leave my bones. Ah winter, at least it is sunny today in London, Ontario and the fresh snow reflects the light to eye blinding awesomeness. I am home and thinking about my garden. I garden for a bunch of reasons but the most important one is my sanity. I love the smell of earth and the feel of it between my toes. I like just sitting on the ground, playing with the mulch, watching ants and smelling the plants. It is a sensual experience that replenishes my creativity and my calm equanimity, both are often in short supply.
I garden for a sense of accomplishment, a concrete thing that I did, that I can touch and feel. I garden so that I have beauty in my life. I garden to make the space my home, my sanctuary and actually a bit more wild. I rent in an older neighbourhood, next to a parking garage & hospital, and it could feel all concrete and hard edges but the mature trees and rambling houses soften the urban landscape. I try to bring a cottage garden feel to the front of the house, linking the grey stucco façade of a refurbished Ontario Cottage to the land in front of it.
I feel like I’ve made a house fit for Hobbiton when I look at these pictures. It gives me a deep sense of joy. Last spring I mulched under our crab apple tree and wedged food plants on the front stoop. Then my momentum got away from me and I put a little red bud in the grass to the left. Next thing I knew I had tomatoes there too! I had been bitten by the Food Not Lawns bug and I saw spaces for beauty and food everywhere.
The summer turned into fall and I had gathered quite a bit of food and learned a lot about what I could grow where.
What struck me most of all was how gardening out front connected me to my neighbours and that is a big part of why I garden, connection. I get to share the food and flowers with my friends and family, nourish their bellies and creativity, share laughs. Even with dietary restrictions there was no one I met who couldn’t enjoy at least some of the bounty from my efforts.
I garden for environmental reasons, to reduce my carbon footprint and the pesticides in the environment. I garden for political reasons so that I know no one was exploited for this food to come to my table. I garden out front to show people we can all do something for food security, plant an apple tree, grow some chives, gather some purslane .
My next challenge is to tackle the backyard, where my 2 enthusiastic and very large dogs rip, roar and tear around the firepit, hammock and trampoline. That’s a lot happening on a 1/4 acre lot. I don’t even think it’s 1/4 acre but let’s say it is that big.
I’m thinking blueberries around the trampoline, high bush cranberries, pawpaws, wild strawberries under the hammock and fiddleheads by the rainspout. And maybe a greywater system off the laundry? It’s ripe for potential and I’m dreaming of a food forest that envelopes my home, feeds my family and keeps me on the fun side of crazy.