Why do I garden?

As a 20-something who works in digital, I often notice the puzzled or surprised looks I receive when someone learns of my passion for gardening. Amongst others (in my age group in particular) there is a perception that gardening is a past-time for older individuals.

So, why do I garden? The answer is both simple and complex, in the way that many of life’s pleasures are when you really start to introspect and think about the why. First and foremost because it is a safe space, one in which you are free to impose your own will and vision, without the need to pander to or flatter others (as seems to be much the case in so many other aspects of life). It is a place to experiment, to make mistakes, and to learn yourself as much as the soil and plants.

My day job revolves around thinking about, and designing things, from the perspective of others. The garden is purely for myself, and I can be as selfish, outlandish or conservative as I desire, safe in the knowledge I cannot be wrong, be judged, or be criticised.

Yes, mistakes will be made. Plants may wilt and certain layouts might need reworking, but there is a pleasure in the process that is hard to describe. Creating a garden is not about the destination; it is never finished. It is the journey, the expanding horizons, the excitement when something works, and the disappointment and resolve when something doesn’t.

Gardening provides the opportunity to leave an, albeit fleeting, mark on the world. The chance to craft something physical, completely unique and natural; qualities that often seem rare in todays disposable, commodotised, digitised, manufactured world.

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The Nursery Run

A quick trip to White Gate Nursery in Keynsham to pick up our first fern and some Cyclamen for a bit of winter colour. A little Ivy also found its way into the basket too…

Compost Bins & Clay

A little over a week since moving in, and we’ve already started in the garden (this despite a multitude of jobs that maybe should take precedence indoors).

After hacking the rather wild grass down to a reasonable length, it dawned on us that we should first build a suitable dumping ground for all the rich grass cuttings, pruned materials and so on. A serious composting setup was one of my goals for the garden here, and although it’s only the first small step towards that, we’re pretty chuffed with our first effort. As you can see, a couple of pallets, brackets, hinges and latches do a decent job of making a sizeable bin.

Despite protestations from the other half, I’m also inclined to wrap and staple some chicken wire around the outside to cover some of the larger gaps present in the middle of the pallets (whilst not reducing airflow – which is very important!).

Looking forward, I hope to build another two similar bins alongside the first; a system highly recommended by good old Monty as it not only increases capacity but also speeds up the process nicely.

Since finding my green fingers, I’ve always recognised the benefit of making your own compost (eco-friendly, cheaper, nutritious etc), but it was only yesterday that the importance of doing so really hit home. Yesterday, we put spade to soil for the first time here at Hungerford. Although it’s going to take many months and years to get to where we want the garden to be, it was definitely an exciting moment. Exciting that is until I felt a slightly painful jolt rocket up the spade through my hand, across my wrist and up my arm…

It turns out our new garden sits on what can only be described as (seriously) heavy clay…

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Modern life is, for most of us, a kind of serfdom to mortgage, job and the constant assault to consume. Although we have more time and money than ever before, most of us have little sense of control over our own lives. It is all connected to the apathy that means fewer and fewer people vote. Politicians don’t listen to us anyway. Big business has all the power; religious extremism all the fear. But in the garden or allotment we are king or queen. It is our piece of outdoors that lays a real stake to the planet.

Monty Don, My Roots: A Decade in the Garden