As long time readers will know, last year was a disaster in the garden. The sudden death of my mother, my father's deterioration with Motor Neurone Disease and the decline and subsequent death of my father in law all conspired to produce a year which was entirely overtaken by family and family responsibilities. The garden disappeared under a tide of weeds and unchecked growth and the state of it depressed me so much that I could only manage by not looking at it, not spending time in it, not thinking about it. Wandering around left me desperately aware of everything that needed attention and attention was the one thing it could not have. I shut myself off from the garden as much as I could and when I did think about it I was assailed by a sense of failure. Even what I had done in creating some parts of the garden from a field felt hopelessly inadequate. My vision of what I was trying to do slid away like water down a drain. I hardly felt like myself without my garden obsession but then I hardly felt like myself anyway, without my mother, watching my father being slowly rubbed out like a pencil drawing. Ian kept the grass cut. That was about it.
But now maybe there are shoots. Is it somehow part of the process of adjusting to what life is like now? Is it something to do with the way life goes on?
There are snowdrops and crocuses and the early beginnings of primroses.
There are hellebores, the whites and creams and purples and speckled creams of hellebore orientalis in quantities and the acid green of hellebore foetidus against the dark narrow foliage.
There is the foliage of cyclamen.
The white stemmed birches are growing slowly but are now just about large enough to shed the brown and orange bark of their immaturity and reveal the whiteness shining in the sun. There are seven of these. "How long will it be before they are a real presence?" I find myself thinking.
Ian has moved a little black mulberry into the bottom garden and planted a line of beech hedge to increase the sense of enclosure down here. This bottom third of the field is the only part of the field garden which does not look out across the valley and up to the hills. The bottom boundary is enclosed by trees and down here you can for the first time look inwards rather than away to the skyline. The mulberry could be the contemplative centre of that, spreading gently when it reaches maturity. That might be ten years away but suddenly I found that I was thinking about the garden again, tentatively, slighly warily. I walked around again, looking again, sometimes really looking but mainly glancing sideways. I stopped and looked out again towards the hills.
I almost don't dare to fall in love with the garden again. It is too painful when it doesn't work and who knows what this year will hold. Perhaps I will simply do a little, take my time, one step at a time. In a month or so there will an awful lot of daffodils.