When I was growing up at the Manse, we had a large vegetable garden beside the house and, later, another even bigger plot across the street beside the home of Will and Isabelle Holmes, after they grew too elderly to keep a garden themselves. Weeding the garden was a regular chore, and I was never at all fond of it – though I was very fond indeed of the big ripe tomatoes and the sweet corn and the lovely freshly dug baby potatoes that came out of those gardens. As an adult, I have demonstrated an utter lack of skill with gardening, and I know next to nothing about how to do it properly. The fact that I’ve lived for almost 20 years in places with no land, a balcony at best, means that I haven’t had to fuss much with anything other than geraniums, which even I can’t kill, and pots of herbs.
But now that I am a part-time inhabitant of the Manse once again, the Garden Question looms. For sure Raymond and I will have a nice big vegetable garden eventually; I wrote about my hopes and dreams for that here. But it will have to wait until we are able to be in residence a lot of the time through the gardening season. For now, there’s just the extant perennial garden by the front steps to think about.
This garden did not exist in my childhood, and even if it had it wouldn’t have lasted long, what with all the resident and neighbourhood children and dogs bombing around the yard all the time. But some green-thumbed parishioners at St. Andrew’s United Church were thoughtful enough to create a really nice little garden there, and keep it up. Now that everything’s blooming, it looks really nice. And I didn’t have to lift a finger to make it happen!
But I do have to lift a finger to keep it up. When Raymond and I were last in Queensborough, I was kind of horrified by how much tall grass had sprung up among the plants that actually belong in the garden. And there were also baby trees trying to take root, and dandelions, and milkweeds, and assorted other intruders.
So I got started at the weeding, and soon discovered that it is a very satisfying task. It’s a quiet operation, and you can think about life and the meaning of same while you’re doing it. You can feel increasingly pleased with yourself as you keep an eye on the growing pile of wilting greenery that you’ve yanked out. And it’s kind of addictive. You can go through a whole section and think you’ve got all the weeds, but a second inspection will inevitably turn up more that need to be pulled, and a third still more, and so on. You’re never done. It’s kind of like infinity. Or the universe. Or eternity. Or something.