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Fruits, labour and random weather

One of the troubles of working in a garden project – even if these days I am mainly in the office – is that it makes my home garden efforts look decidedly feeble. Here at the garden in Thrive,the allotment field has really exploded into production, rows of waist high kale, bean smothering the frames and courgettes firing out of the foliage as you watch. While back at home, my garden descends into shade in the summer as the big oak tree next door comes into leaf and stares at me reproachfully each morning with a list of overdue jobs. I need my own team of gardeners.

But it’s not just my disorganization. It seems to just have been a strange year for some plants. Last year I had my best every tomato crop. This year they have grown sad and spindly but it’s been a bumper year for blueberries and strawberries. And odd things are happening with my geraniums – loads of luxuriant leaf growth but next to no flowers. Fortunately, the lobelia has gone berserk, clambering through everything.

The fruit also seems to be coming in strangely early this year too. In the garden at Thrive, the cherry plum has been dropping juicy edible fruits for the past month (not bad for a tree that’s in theory mainly ornamental), the crab apple is heavily laden already and I’ve finally managed to glean a ripe fig from the side of the tea room, (although that’s more to do with getting there before the other scavenging therapists, rather than any scarcity of fruit).

This annual variability of success is both the strengths and challenges of working with therapeutic gardening. It shows us how we can work with things even when we cannot control them; it allows us to see the garden and ourselves as part of a connected whole; it gives us patience, perseverance and optimism and demonstrates a continuity, that life goes on, even when one crop fails, the seeds of the next are growing. It’s also why it’s essential for the Therapist to have a good knowledge and experience of horticulture. For example, for a client who is lacking in confidence, it may be useful to pick plants or crops with a high success rate – however strange the growing year

So perhaps I need to learn to accept the randomness of my growing and the vagaries of the weather as part of my therapy, ditch my delusion that I can control my garden and just roll with whatever comes – last year tomatoes, this year cherry plums– next year, who know. But its going to be fun to find out.!

Comments (5)

  1. Grower

    Rachel the Gardener

    Trish, I have to agree that it's being a "very funny year" in many ways!

  2. Grower

    Jeremy Wright

    I find every year different. It seems the more I get to know my garden, the more I notice how things change from one year to the next.

    Stars this year for us have been Forsythia, Hydrangeas, Roses, Wisteria, Geranium and Grass. OMG what a year for grass. Have spent the whole time mowing.

    The year I disliked most was 2012 - when snails and slugs ate almost everything, even came in the house and climbed the walls.

  3. Grower

    Trish Matthews

    some signs that the geraniums may finally flower (fingers crossed). Now I just need some way of keeping them alive over winter - no heating in my greenhouse but I was wondering about getting a plastic greenhouse/tunnel to keep them up by the house where I can run a small electric heater - anyone tried anything like that?not sure how warm geraniums need to be to survive a winter?

  4. Grower

    Rachel the Gardener

    Trish, most of my Clients who take cuttings from their Geraniums ("Gerania?" Sure not!) each year take them indoors, usually on a sunny windowledge or porch. I think they'd be too cold for comfort outside, and those plastic greenhouses don't hold heat the way that glass does.

    Having said that, in a mild winter, I've seen Geraniums planted out in the garden come back from the dead - but I wouldn't recommend relying on the weather!

  5. Grower

    Sandy Fitzgerald

    Hi Trish, I love your comments about how gardening helps show us how we can work with things even if we can't control them. Surely a metaphor for a touch day in the office or life at large for that matter! It's a case of hanging on in there, celebrating the successes and not viewing things that don't go as you expected as 'failures'......just different to what you hoped for. There's always next time and that makes for a hopeful outlook on everything.


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