As we continue our ascent towards the peak of summer, my garden finds itself languishing in a sorry state of neglect. Well, that’s not strictly true. My husband still regularly mows the grass, trims the hedges and dispenses with the persistent weeds that pop up between the cracks in the paving stones.

But the parts I typically look after, the planters that usually hold bright clusters of flowers and the raised beds that, by this stage of the year, are normally bursting with a bounty of vegetables, have fallen by the wayside.

In many ways, the garden is an apt metaphor for life. There are times when you put off tasks to focus on other things and before you know it, what was once a simple and straightforward job has morphed into the equivalent of hacking through dense jungle with a machete.

Which is where we find ourselves in the present day. Instead of a machete, I’m armed with secateurs, gardening gloves and the brown wheelie bin.

My dog, dozing on the nearby lawn, casually opens an eye as I trundle past, his expression that of undisguised disdain, as if to say, “Yep, rather you than me”.


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I start with the raised beds, grabbing handfuls of tall weeds. Some tree seedlings have taken root: sycamore, birch and ash. Nettles and wildflowers too. My biceps, thighs and lower back soon begin to burn with the effort, as perspiration beads my forehead.

I unearth a clutch of treasures tucked beneath the unruly foliage. Among them is a tiny bird skull, the bone clean and white. I sit it in the palm of my hand, marvelling at the delicate structure.

There is a smattering of potato plants that must have seeded from a past crop. Pulling them roughly from the soil, I’m pleasantly surprised to find a handful of decent tatties. Enough to boil and add to a salad for lunch.

Then it is on to emptying the barren planters. The plan is to reuse the compost for topping up the raised beds. I lift the nearest one and tip the contents out, then instantly recoil when I realise that I’ve just disturbed a large colony of ants.

Several crawl around on my bare arms. I get a few nips, which is fair enough. I wouldn’t be too happy either if some lumbering giant came along and turned my house upside down.

I retreat to the kitchen to make a cup of tea and plot my next move, leaving the ants in peace. I decide to tackle the strawberry beds. I don’t hold out much hope for a harvest this summer, however, nestled under the canopy of weeds, I delightedly discover unexpected signs of life.


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At least two dozen strawberry plants bear the distinctive white petals that signify budding fruit. Some pretty wildflowers are growing amongst them. I carefully remove the latter and replant them in some decorative ceramic pots that line the driveway.

Later, I notice the slender stems are snapped and the colourful blooms have vanished. At first, I put it down to the gusting winds. Yet, closer inspection reveals they have been munched on by wild rabbits. Gah. Just as well I hadn’t shelled out a fortune on bedding plants, then.

As the hours pass, I make steady progress and it ceases to feel like a chore. Why did I keep putting it off, I wonder? My aching muscles the next day give me that answer. But when I look out the window at the garden, I feel a huge sense of pride.

There is much to be grateful for. Fresh air. Time spent among nature. Solitude alone with my thoughts. A connection with the myriad hidden worlds intertwined with our own. Maybe I won’t leave it so long next time.