Wednesday, July 8, 2015

A Very Small Garden

To garden is to have a tiny country of your own, where you are both king and serf. The way to it lies through a simple patch of soil; the smallest pot of earth and a single seed can take you there.

To garden is to dream. Once get your hands well into the dirt, and your mind is free to soar.

To garden is to connect - with the earth beneath, with the sky above, with the wind that blows and the rain that falls. To garden is to hear the birds and to feel the hot sun on your back.

To garden is to work, and to wait. To garden is to sweat, and sometimes to swear.

To garden is to return to the first calling of humankind; to look upon what God has made and call it good; to live, if only for a moment, in Eden.

~ ~ ~

One of the perks of renting from a casual and absentee landlord is a certain latitude when it comes to use of the property. Our apartment occupies the bottom floor of a house surrounded mainly by grass; the yard is not landscaped in any way, nor cared for other than with regular mowing.

Though I'd love to have a sizeable garden, diffidence constrains me from digging up a large patch of someone else's lawn, even for the laudable purpose of growing vegetables. So instead I've carved out a few small spaces for gardening of a useful and beautiful kind. (The landlord has never objected, so I assume he doesn't mind.)

There is a tiny plot next to the house (confession: I did dig up a bit of lawn here), just big enough for a few veggies and some perennial herbs. This year it holds kale and basil and a small hot-pepper plant, with lovage, lemon balm, and chives:

There are small planters on either side of our south-facing doorstep. When we moved here they were flat, and sparsely populated by iris. The iris was promptly relocated and the planters converted to two-layer mini-terraces filled with an annual succession of herbs and flowers.

Among the plants on the right-hand side are purple beans, just beginning to bloom:

And more basil (pesto-to-be):

On the other side, cosmos - like a green breath waiting to exhale a flower:

Thyme starred with tiny, miraculous blossom:

Bright dianthus, delicate and bold:

Tarragon, parsley, alyssum, chives, verbena, marigold, Irish Poet ... a litany of beauty and flavour sung by a few square feet of earth.

In a crook of the house lies a grassless space which is perfect for a tomato plant. All the sun and warmth of the day are caught and concentrated here, and every year tomatoes thrive on this spot. (I know I'm breaking a gardening rule by always planting them in the same place, but they love it and produce prodigious amounts of fruit.)

On and around the steps are potted plants: more marigold and alyssum, more basil and verbena, a thyme and a rosemary that have dozed in the house all winter long, dreaming of summer days out-of-doors.

Only a Very Small Garden, but it brings me large joy.

~ ~ ~

Do you have a garden? What do you like to grow?

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  1. This year my flower bed is full of brussels sprouts, tomatoes, courgettes, carrots and lettuce. Our daughter gave us the seed for Christmas and I felt obliged to plant everything even though I know the sprouts won't be eaten by any of us!

  2. It may be small but you are certainly using the space to it's maximum potential your plants are looking great I'm sure that your landlord wouldn't mind at all in fact I would be tempted to ask his permission to dig up another small portion of lawn. :) xx

  3. We own a new build with a postage stamp garden and after 4 years of ugly patio and weedy lawn i had moaned enough to persuade the family to spend a bit of money getting it landscaped to my design. We are now out enjoying our garden everyday and managing to grow strawberries, tomatoes, courgettes, mangetout and armfuls of herbs as well as some pretties all in pots of various sizes. I must blog it. Your stolen garden is so pretty!

  4. Small, but very nice. Someone once said (and Lord knows i can't remember who) that gardening was the slowest of the fine arts, but so worthwhile.

  5. It's a delightful garden! I love it. My Dad always planted a garden when he was able, and when he got sick, he just grew stuff in pots. I can't look at a Farmer's Almanac without thinking of him to this day! Blessings to you dear friend. :)

  6. The beginnings of a perfect salad lies at your doorstep. The bounty that Nature has to offer is endless.
    I'm always amazed how much can be grown in such little space. Raised beds or vintage fruit crates can procure a constant supply of salad greens, potatoes grown in a garbage cans and anything grown on the ground can also grow horizontal.
    I have a group of old wooden ladders I have gathered over the years on which I manage to grow cucumbers, squash and even pumpkins...
    Enjoy the yummy fruits of your labour!
    Susan x

  7. I love what you wrote about gardening! Every word! Frustration for me every year with garden terrorists, but joy regardless just watching things grow. Every morning, the excitement of rushing outside to see what new is blooming!

  8. Your thoughts on gardening are so lovely. I love your photos. I think I shall tell Fireman to move his pots of tomatoes to the south facing garage. I think they will like it better there.
    I am focused on Roses this year. I just put mineral oil on the leaves, as something is eating holes in my pretty leaves.
    I threw cosmos seeds in the ground and they are growing so well.
    I love going to the farmers market and getting really fresh produce this time o fear.
    My indoor plants are just two: bamboo and easy to care for!

  9. Your garden is delightful! After working for three hours in 95degrees F temp today ( and not being finished!), I am ready for a smaller garden. You have inspired me to downsize. Our local grocery stores have great produce! Linda@Wetcreek Blog

  10. Do you ever have something that munches your basil leaves before you do, Sue? I just have one basil plant and sadly it is being devoured by something I have yet to catch. For awhile my son sprayed it with tabasco sauce/water which seemed to help. My one sun gold tomato plant is thriving and has one tomato on it that is almost ripe. I admire your gardening efforts and your words about gardening! Thanks for posting! xx

  11. It may be small but it looks very productive. Ours always starts to become noticeably overgrown at this time of year.

  12. Cool read!

    I don't grow anything. However, I do enjoy watching Snowcatcher bring things to life.

  13. I agree that growing things is a wonder. Recently, we have gradually expanded our garden each year, though I have always had flowers and herbs, even when I lived with only a balcony. Some may think it is unnecessary trouble (especially carting bags of soil to an upstairs apartment), but for me it was a necessary joy.

  14. I DO have a garden, but it is a bit quirky. I have my orchids (about 15), a couple of carnivorous plants, a bat plant, and one habanero pepper plant.

    Your garden plants are beautiful. I love the bean blossom! :-)

  15. I also rent and have several flower pots, morning glories up the back fence, a pepper plant, and a rather large cherry tomato plant which I adore (climbing said back fence). When I first ate a tomato off my own plant last year I marveled at the fact that such a thing had happened. Plants are so mysterious and interesting!

  16. Your garden is lovely! It's amazing how much can be grown in a smaller space and provide lots of edibles and pretty blooms. I think people often won't plant as they think there space is too small or not a typical garden. You can do lots with lots of different spaces and containers. We have a big yard with lots of challenges so it's always a bit of a crap shoot some years, but every year we say next year will be better! Great post!

  17. You make me wish I'd planted some veggies despite our lack of sunny spots and spruced up my few flowers. I do have one basil plant in a planter on the deck.

  18. Dear Sue, your small garden looks beautiful and you have made the most out of the restricted space. My garden is a really big one and I don't have enough time and energy to keep it in good order. But meanwhile I'm okay with it, a garden should be the place for rest and peace and shouldn't stress you. So I let it go, at least in some corners. I grow quite a few vegetables, fruits and herbs, as well but this year everything is so late due to the cold weather. The redcurrants are still not ripe. But the strawberries are very nice by now. Hope you have a good weekend, Viola

  19. Yours looks like a great way to garden to me. We have a small plot front and back of the house and what we grow varies year to year according to whim and sometimes necessity. I like it that way :)

  20. There are wonderful surprises and many a "Oh, Wows!" in small. You have a lovely garden. Small is good.
    xoxo, Ellen.

  21. You have made good use of your small patch, very pretty it is too.


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