But close your eyes and you still don’t miss out: I can breathe in deep lungfuls of sweet jasmine, hanging heavily over fences, common yellow freesias, and the best smell-of-summer, freshly cut grass.
The weather is typically chaotic, with a stifling summer-like high of 28 one day (more likely in January than September) followed, somewhat predictably and ridiculously, by snow-on-the-mountain a couple of days later. But mostly, we are enjoying the fine, bright days. My friend V said to me, in the depths of winter, don’t you think it’s weird that we live in a place where for six months — or more — we wished we didn’t? And she’s so right; all of winter is spent waiting, growling and sometimes despairingly, waiting for now, for these lovely days, these weeks of firsts: the first fat blossom bud on the apricots, first tender leaves on the birches, first proud tulip, first fragile sprays of native orchids.
Mum and I marvel how each day brings new surprises in the garden. ‘Check your ixias / lilac tree / bluebell patch’ or ‘My viburnum tree has small green pom poms — has yours?’. Like old men entering their prize blooms in church-hall flower shows, we do get competitive about our native orchids and our begonias (first, biggest, best) but mostly these conversations are prompts to look out for and enjoy nature’s joyous awakening.
Now that dad has completed my vegie garden, and the warmer weather is finally here, I am very much enjoying being out in my backyard. The form of the garden beds brings a pleasing structure and sense of purpose to the space: here is where I’ll grow my food, here is the lovely woodchip-and-paving-stone pathways, and then here is the space for flowers, to bring bees and colour to the garden.
Yes, the space has a very positive and purposeful feel now — not so slapdash or amateurish. I guess only I am aware of that feeling. It’s a joy to walk along those proper paths, to work in the beds, water the pots lining the edges, and of course, start sowing crops.
So far, I am starting modestly. Beetroot and small globe carrots along some of the edges, companion marigolds and a rescued pot of pyrethrum in the corners. Peas, beans and scarlet broad beans; frustratingly, I had to re-sow the beans as only one seed in two rows germinated. I’m being sensible this year and doing only a couple of rows of each right now; in a few weeks’ time I’ll install more trellises and more peas and bean seeds. Hopefully this will produce successive or staggered harvests —something that in my usual spring enthusiasm to sow the entire space now I have never before mastered.
Plum has finally put on her finery: only a small corsage of two delicate white flowers, but now, a sturdy coat of bright green leaves along all her branches. Such a relief; she no longer looks like a dead stick but a happy, healthy young sapling with her green arms outstretched, as if to say, for us all, ‘Spring is here, and life is good!’.
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