Thursday, March 24, 2011

What to call this?

When demolition is progress, but a gardener craves greenery, and so loss of greenery is somewhat heart-rending?
How to explain?
This is somewhat hard to articulate. 

I think most people are probably structure and interior focused, so when they go house hunting - if they are fortunate enough to be able to - they look at the building, at the house; is it brick, wood, weatherboard or stone? When was it built? Are the rooms big enough, and would we manage with three bedrooms instead of four? Can we live with that shabby 40 year old bathroom? That carpet would have to go. Will this house suit our needs?
And then there are a few of us, who think they could not possibly live on a block under 800m2 (1/5th acre); who want to know what that shrub is out the front, and who admire the roses - but not the block pattern they are planted in - and shrug their shoulders at ugly bathrooms, and instead of thinking about carpet, wall paint, and curtains, our minds go on flights of fancy dreaming of apple trees and spring blossoms and giant vegetable gardens and paths bordered with creeping thyme.
No prizes for guessing which type of person I am.
So, after you have all this, then comes the challenge of working out how to make what you have into what you would like.  For us this means a large house extension and re-landscaping the garden. I am looking forward to watching it all happen; it's exciting, and yet, and yet...and yet....
D sent me a photo on Monday of our new water tank on his phone. In it I could see the tank, part of the shed, the fence, and that the privets were gone and the ground around the tank, which is to be a future lawn, had been graded back down to earth (it was dolomite, having once been a sort of car-parking area). It all looked quite neat really.

Then, on Tuesday morning, D took SP to her swimming lesson (just up the road from our house) while I mooched over to a local coffee shop and rasped out my order for a takeaway latte (it was early, in my defense). Then I walked to our little house, went around the back and...

I saw the 'other half' of the phone photo, the part omitted. In not seeing this the day before, I hadn't actually thought about it, and so it was a shock. It seems silly to say, I mean, it is progress of course, and my greenery was only weeds and a bit of cruddy buffalo grass, but now it is piles of refuse and dying plants and my heart protested. Even though, and I must clarify this, even though I knew all this was going to happen, and my vegetables are fine, my little trees are fine, there is something about that expanse of bare ripped earth which breaks my heart.

I'm sorry, privet tree, why do I feel so guilty? I sanctioned your destruction because you were old and covered in fungus and unhappy. It's like I'm suffering from a violation of some kind of gardener's Hippocratic oath, 'first, do no harm...'
 But, fortified by my warming coffee, I wandered around what's left of our backyard and took stock. One must move past deposed-privet-tree-guilt and look forward, after all!
I found a glimmer of what is to come: bamboo stakes marking out what will be the future raised round garden bed:

And I found a kind of obscure beauty in stacks of old and rusting roof iron, and in pieces of pipe piled among the pine needles.

Out in the front garden, where there is barely a hint of the chaos out the back, the Iceburg roses carry on peacefully blooming even in this autumn which has struck with a vengeance of driving cold rain and whipping winds.

Roses: always lovely, always calming. Thank the Heavens for roses.


Anonymous said...

I too am doing this to my garden - I like to think of cleaning the canvas to create something better. I had to saw a frangipani out on the weekend. I hacked and hacked but although it won't grow from the stump I left I can't bring myself to take it to the ground just yet. I do like them but its not right where it is and I need the veg there. I am with you in sadness for the trees that were. Good luck.

HAZEL said...

When I chose this house...I was really only buying the garden and the water rights to the creek. It was just fortunate that the house is livable too. LOL