10 December 2012

This garden of love

We've been in our house for seven years now. I didn't like the garden when I moved in. It had plants I didn't like, and the back garden felt barren and small.

Our vegetable garden now.
As I walked out to the backyard today - a day of full, bright summer sunshine and fertile smells - I realised I have come to love our property. It is so cultivated and rich, and so ours.

There's a huge crop of Hawera plums ripening. The tree was
a gorgeous mass of blossom in spring: the bees have worked hard.
Granny Smiths from one of our espaliered trees.
It's full of vegetables and fruit trees, a veritable food jungle in places. It's also well stocked with maturing native trees and plants. Although they take up more room than the barren bark-chipped garden that was once there, our backyard now seems full of life, character and colour. They give us privacy that was once non-existent, and house our chickens, who prefer to be under trees, being descended from jungle fowl.

Ignore the knickers. The native trees are behind. Hard to believe
that seven years ago there was just the odd straggly camellia along
this fenceline.
There is a hard-earned stack of wood waiting to keep us warm in winter, overlooked by a grapevine that we will feast on in February (although the arrival of the wood means that getting to the bunches at the back could be a challenge).

It's kind of wild...
Our self-seeded sunflower forest. When she goes off into her
happy, sing-song, imaginary world, Anna tells me fairies, elves
 and goblins live in here. They go to sleep about the same time
as the chickens, she says. The latter are very prompt at jumping
on their perch when the sun begins to set.
And there are good, healthy things to eat every way you look.

But mostly the thing I love about it is the way it has become our children's place of play and home, the place they're growing up, and a place they love. They've been inspired by our cat, clambering over fences and roofs, making up for the lack of tall trees by maximising the vertical structures we do have.

Even better, the neighbour has a large tree of ripening plums, one branch of which hangs over our shed roof. It's time to plunder! (With her permission, of course.) It's a rite of childhood, is it not?

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