I often find myself , in the depths of Winter, longing for those glorious days of Summer when the garden is full of wonderous flowers and is teeming with wildlife. I think, as humans, we always want what isn’t readily accessible. In the heat of Summer I long for the cool of Winter and in the Winter I long for warmth but the contrast is what gives one hope, something to look forward to.
Every gardening year is unique
And so it should be, it is stagnation that is our downfall, we all strive for that elusive something, it is what has driven mankind. How many gardeners try year after year to successfully grow a plant that isn’t suited to the garden, to the soil, to the aspect, to the Winters. We endeavour, against seemingly unsurmountable odds and sometimes we shrug our shoulders and admit defeat. As gardeners we make mighty plans of what we are going to do differently next year but we often forget that mother nature has her own plan. The life of the gardener is to plan, to strive for perfection, to grow a more beautiful garden than last year, to produce better crop yields but sometimes the cards are stacked against you and you have to think that maybe next year is better. Every gardening year is a story of successes and failures, of moments of wonderment and awe at the beauty of a flower, at the comforting drone of bees and somehow feeling that you are making a difference.
Symbiosis is self-preservation
As I get older I am becoming a more and more committed environmentalist. I’m not even sure that I can call myself an environmentalist, my sins against nature are too numerous, but I am trying. I often wonder what would happen if we all tried, could we really make a difference to local economies, to the environment. Could we slow down or even reverse global warming and prevent the extinction of yet more untold species?
I wish I had the self-discipline to be 100% committed to the saving of the planet but isn’t that the crux of the problem? We are all so used to getting what we want and are not prepared to compromise, to give up what we want, even if that means that we destroy the planet. When I was looking through my photo library to select pictures for this article I was reminded of how beautiful nature and this planet is, my inner Buddhist reminds me that every plant, insect and animal has its place and has a right to be. I know that I need to do more, that will have to be my New Years resolution. For in saving the planet we are saving ourselves.
The power is in your hands and mine
I have written before about the power that we have as consumers and it is so true. If you are waiting for governments to change laws and save the planet then you will be waiting too long and have left it too late. Look at Greta Thunberg, now there is a person who has raised her head above the parapet but she cannot save the planet on her own. She needs us to step-up and so does the planet.
We already grow a large proportion of the fruit and vegetables that we consume here in the Moosbach Garden. We love it, no chemicals, no road miles and always in Season. Yes, we do preserve much of our own crops for the Winter months but the carbon footprint is minimal. I am going to make a commitment, to you, to myself and to the planet. I am only going to buy produce that has been produced locally, that is in season and that has no plastic packaging, if you like let’s call it environmental shopping. If we change our buying habits then companies will stop producing food in environmentally unsound packaging, if we only buy locally produced items we help to support local farmers and communities.
Here in the Moosbach Garden, we are spoilt. we have enough space to grow vegetables and fruit but not everybody has that luxury, perhaps in towns and cities we need more allotments and community gardens. I think that community gardens are a great way to get exercise, to meet new people, to feed your soul and to ensure good mental health.
What has 2020 taught me?
Well, it has shown me what a fragile and precarious state we are in as a species, we are too dependent upon the import of food and how dependent we have become on supermarkets. Many more people have starting growing their own herbs, salad and vegetables out of a fear that they will not be available or too expensive. Whether the fear is driven by COVID 19 or Brexit is unclear, perhaps it is both but it is a wakeup call. We need to teach our children where food comes from, how to grow it and instil an understanding of the environment, of conservation and of kindness, not just to our fellow human beings but to wildlife and the planet. Teach our children the peace that comes from the non-immediate, from the anticipation of food and seasons to come, of shared experiences with friends and that imperfection is normal and not to be rejected. Above all we should not be focussing on our differences but on what we have in common and how we can help and impower each other. I wish you all a healthy, happy and fulfilled 2021. For those who have lost loved ones, my deepest condolences. This pandemic will come to an end, the sun will shine again and we will heal out hearts and our bodies.