Willow sits on the stone slab that I placed upon the rockery just days earlier. The area behind the old stables was a mess when we rented the cottage, overgrown with weeds and dirt. I scraped the dirt from the cobbled brick path and pulled out the weeds.
The finishing touch was the stone slab which formed the perfect vantage point where one can sit in the shade of the cypress tree and admire the garden, the pine-like scent of the cypress wafting through the air as the sun hits it.
Recently I wrote of how we found ourselves at this little cottage and the story of the garden that was established in the 70s by Eileen, its loving owner.
Amongst the weeds grew bunches of california poppies and rose campions. But there was something dwelling on my mind. What would she think of it now, so overgrown and forgotten?
Willow jumps down from the slab, giving back my seat, and perches herself on the windowsill of the old stable. The red bricks so weathered and worn by the years. From inside something attracts Willow’s attention and she stares through the glass. Perhaps, it was that pesky possum that has made himself at home there?
A month earlier I found myself facing a dilemma. Sure, I had tidied up the yard and done some pruning, but there was so much more I could do for the garden, to help it become what it once was. But, why would I invest time and money in a garden that wasn’t mine or one I may not complete, for our lease may not be renewed and we’d be turfed on the street.
Then I considered what a foolish notion that may be.
The past 7 years of our lives has been transitory to say the least, and we’ll never know what is around the corner, so if I enjoy gardening then why wouldn’t I garden? Was there a moment when Eileen sat back and considered the garden complete? I doubt so! A garden is a transitory art by definition, and every rose bloomed or strawberry fruited bestows the satisfaction of that transformation, not the mark of its completion.
So, I put on my gardening gloves, and Willow watched by the french doors as I got to work.
I ripped out the sacred bamboo that had invaded many of the garden beds. I exposed the beautiful brick edging that had been covered by grass. And, I uncovered paths and rock work that time had forgotten.
In the rockery I planted asters, marigolds, and snapdragons. With my mattock I dug up the old almond tree trunk and made way for a strawberry patch and beans. Willow walked along the newly cobbled path and inspected the work.
Charlotte and Adrian will be happy with the work you’re doing, my neighbour said over the fence.
I don’t care, I replied.
I was doing this for me, because it may not be forever but it is right now.
I stand up from the stone slab and Willow is quick to steal my spot. It’s been a long few weeks and my body is sore, but I feel strong. The scent of the philadelphus is strong in the air and it makes me smile.
This summer we will eat strawberries and beans, and next year, who knows..
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Thanks for spending a moment with Willow and I in the cottage garden. It’s such a wonderful place and we are so lucky to be the unofficial custodians of it. I hope to take lots more photos of Willow in it over the summer.