One of things that looked like a bit of a daunting task when we moved into our current house was the back garden. As is the tradition in the UK that new houses have a landscaped (cheaply) front garden, but a back garden that is a complete mess. They don’t even clean out all of the detritus that results from the building process. All that happens is that it gets flatten and covered over with a thin veneer of top soil. Stick your spade in anywhere and you’ll come up with a brick, or a lump of concrete, or some piping and enough nails to rebuild your house. They don’t even put up a fence between you and your neighbours, that’s left to a simple piece of wood marking the boundary.
Like many people who move into a new house, the cost of moving wiped us out financially. In that situation the garden always goes to the bottom of the list. That is, apart from the fencing, but that’s only because it’s in your contract to get it resolved within the first few weeks. After a couple of years catching up financially and doing the interior of the house we finally got around to the back garden a couple of years ago. We had wanted to do it ourselves, but in the end we paid someone to do the landscaping so that we could enjoy the planting. Like all gardens it’s taken a little while to get established, but this year it has become a real pleasure.
Gardens are great at encouraging you to look at the overall plan and at the same time looking at the smallest detail. The way that a fern unravels and extends is fabulous. The growth rate of a vine is phenomenal.
At one level the garden is just a collection of billions and trillions of atoms. At another level it’s a puzzle of interrelated cells that even the most powerful computer couldn’t describe. At another level it’s a collection of leaves and branches and flowers. Each of these levels makes our garden interesting, even fascinating, and each of them contributes to the knowledge that this is our place of tranquility, of creativity, of refreshing, of play, of relationship, of fellowship.
The garden is especially a place of play for the children. Our latest edition is a trampoline and the kids would bounce all day every day if their schedule or the English weather would let them. Having children in a garden just extends it’s appeal as a place of family and togetherness.
The other thing about a Garden is that it doesn’t just appeal to one sense, or even two, it gets to every one of them. We deliberately chose plants that contributed scents and taste. This year we have extended that a bit by integrating food producing plants with the other ‘pretty’ plants. A bit like the approach they used to take in the old cottage gardens, but in a more modern way. So hopefully, later in the year, we will be eating the garden too.
Having a garden is a blessing that we could so easily overlook, but spend any time out there and I am soon reminded of the abundant generosity of God. It’s not about us begging it to produce – it just produces, and often it produces far more than we expected.