I was out fighting in the garden as usual the other day. Dragging out bindweed, ripping up handfuls of chickweed and swearing with exasperation at the way the beautiful Rose Campion always becomes a horrid mess as the flowers fade. I stumped about crossly cutting at this and that feeling the garden was winning and it was all too much. Then I paused for a moment and looked up. I saw my eight year old daughter busily and peacefully making a bee grave. Lately, she has taken to collecting up any dead bee that she finds and buries it. She makes a little shallow bowl in the soil, adds a tiny spoonful of some honey mixed with water. She then gathers the most beautiful flowers she can find in the garden to put next the bee. Finally, she covers it with soil and marks the grave with a stone or piece of broken terracotta and some more flowers. As I watched her I was taken with the pure, beautiful simplicity and humanity of what she was doing.
How different I thought our takes on time in the garden are. Who, I thought is engaging in the natural world with more understanding and benefit? I looked round at all my plants that I am constantly trying to worry and badger into not falling over or into each other. I find it depressing and frustrating when things get too big and over blown or equally when they look spindly and lack gumption. I really spend a lot of energy and thought on discontent. In some ways I suppose this drives me on to have a better garden (whatever that means). In another though, I miss a lot of beauty and joy. Without warning a huge rush of sadness entered my heart as I realised how transitory everything is. Soon my daughter will stop doing this wonderful thing in the way all these phases of childhood inevitably fade. Before I know it she will be grown up and gone. I couldn’t do any more weeding. Instead I sat and watched her, the butterflies and the bees all absolutely happy in my overgrown and imperfect garden.