It’ll be three years ago this summer that I began restructuring the garden at Graig Ddu. Many of the small shrubs were over 30 years old and reaching the end of their lives, and some were diseased. It was in the ensuing chain-sawing, uprooting and burning that the holographic nature of the garden wove its way into my awareness.
This was much more than having to break a few eggs to make an omelette. All the while as I chopped and cleared and raked, my subconscious kept offering up suggestions, comparisons and ever widening perspectives of my life. It was no coincidence that I had begun to think of turning my cottage in the forest into a boutique business retreat now. The ensuing clear out in the garden at Graig Ddu was a mirror on the clear out of many aspects of the changes in my life.
In ‘Wholeness And The Implicate Order’ David Bohm writes of the connected-ness of all things, the enfolding of the entire universe into everything, with the consequence that everything we do has an impact on everything else. Whatever I do and whatever I touch in the garden reminds me of this.
In the deep mid-winter of January, we could be forgiven for thinking that the garden is dormant. Never! It is always developing and evolving beneath the surface. The stillness in the garden at Graig Ddu at this time of year is a ruse. The trees that surround the cottage provide shelter, making the garden moist and quiet as well as an efficient incubator. The autumn leaf litter secretly harbours the seedlings of last summer’s annual invasion. Scrape away a few leaves, and they are lying glistening emerald as they gather the energy they will soon need.
The mosses continue their perpetual invasion. They sense their way up the steps, across the stones, and lower themselves down the walls. They would happily take over if I let them. I would be happy to have them all, as they are minutely beautiful in their delicate and tenacious splendour, but some other precious plant would then be sacrificed. It is a perpetual balancing act and negotiation between the outright natives who have been growing here for millennia and the incomers who have learned to thrive in their new surroundings. There is timeless change and continual growth and evolution.
The therapeutic nature of weeding constantly soothes and amazes me in equal measure. Hunkered down on my foam mat, with a silver dinner fork and a tub, I tease out the weeds and mosses from between the strands of creeping thyme, while simultaneously being asked by my subconscious what it is that needs to be teased out of my life. In weeding there is concentration without consequence. My brain knows this is the time to free wheel. To relax and chill out while I poke carefully between the cracks in the flagstones. And then the answers and inspiration come.
Being in the garden is one of the subtle dynamics of Being At The Cottage. Whether you sit and soak up the surroundings or get down on your knees and take part in shaping it for a short while, it is an integral part of the experience.
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