By John Weldon

    My old man kept his garden, when he had one, very neat and tidy, a little in the English Cottage style: well-groomed hedges, borders, blooms and the like. That’s not to say he was cutesy or uptight about it. He didn’t mind backyard cricket and my brother and I wearing great bald patches in the lawn. He was also quite happy to let the grandkids pick every blossom he had so carefully nurtured to make fairy soup in the bird bath.

    It was a well-loved garden, but it was by no means perfect. The lawn was up and down like a you know what’s, you know whats. We used to love playing bocce there but you had to know the lay of the land, literally, if you wanted your ball to end up anywhere near the jack.

    The main thing I remember about that garden, was that dad would spend hours working in it, shaping the wonderfully scented Diosma, encouraging the Wisteria to grow over the pergola and turning the compost. He used to take me out to show me what he was working on, what was coming up, talking about what he was going to plant next year, but it was lost on me back then. I didn’t get it.

    The whole idea of gardening was lost on the younger me. Growing up, whenever we’d say those words every mother loves to hear: ‘I’m bored mum.’ She’d come back with,’Go and help your dad in the garden’. She may as well have said go to church, make our beds, or vacuum the carpets. There were few things worse than the idea of working in the yard. Not that hanging with dad was a chore, far from it, but the idea of weeding, mowing or hoeing was crushingly boring. A single minute spent on my knees, trowel in hand would feel like an eternity, as if I was wasting my entire life, as if it would never end. That sounds dramatic, but it’s true. I. Hated. Gardening.

    Thanks to a desire to downsize, dad no longer has a garden, so he helps me with mine and I couldn’t be more appreciative. As I moved into my thirties and became a homeowner, I developed a genuine love for gardening, but I can’t seem to keep mine anywhere near as well-tended as he did his. He warned me when we bought our house about the size of the garden and the amount of work it would take. I didn’t believe him, of course. I do now.

    Not that I have an issue with the size of my garden, I love the never-ending jobs list, I like it that the lawn doesn’t know when to stop, I get real meditative about edging the pathways and nature strips and I enjoy the surprise each spring when stray tomato plants pop out of nowhere. More than anything, I love the peace and quiet and that time moves differently when I’m out there. Whole days pass in a blur of peace and quiet. I get it now. 

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