Friday, April 25, 2014

In Praise Of The Dutch Hoe

September used to be my favourite month. I was young then. When one is young the beginning of the end of things is poignant and sweet. But when one is older it is just sad, and even a little bit frightening. For, if I live as long as my mother did, I'm in the September of my life.

Now in the September of my life I find that I love April best. For new beginnings, the light and all the summer to look forward to and then, at summer's end, September, my second favourite month.

This is the first year since Matty died that I have enjoyed my garden. Between grieving and cold wet springs it had got completely out of hand. Last autumn Bert and I dug almost everything out of the perennial garden with a view to starting over. Only about half of it survived the winter.

I started working on it after Paris and at first I thought I wouldn't be fit for the task. But a wonderful thing – the more I worked the fitter I became and the fitter I became the happier and and more hopeful I became. I started on my vegetable garden too and I have worked harder in the garden this past few weeks than in all the three years since Matty died.

I have discovered the joy of the Dutch hoe. Bert has been preaching hoeing to me for years but I was unconvinced. I preferred to get down on my knees and battle the weeds at eye level. Now dropping to my knees is something I have to give a bit of thought to. There is the getting up again to consider.

I was worried I was overdoing it with the Dutch hoe. I asked Bert,

What if I blunt it?
I'll buy you a new one.

May was always my best month in the perennial garden. This year the show will be sparse. I have a few wallflowers, saxifrage, primroses on the go. I have pushed in nasturtium plugs here and there. The geraniums and potentillas are far fewer than there were. I don't know if my agapanthus will make it. There are no foxgloves and very few aquilegia. But there is something about that well tilled, almost weed free, brown soil that pleases me. It is a blank canvas. I can do what I want with it. So even and smooth and Dutch hoed to pieces. Until today.

My blank canvas

I had been feeling a bit guilty that I hadn't been keeping up with the planting but I was having so much fun Dutch hoeing and seed sowing in the poly tunnel that there wasn't enough time.

Just before they escaped

And then I noticed that the pigs had escaped from their field. I set off in search. The first one I came across was Rusty. Coming out of our house as if he had every right to be there. He turned the corner to the front of the house and there was Lily, standing in my perennial bed, digging a great hole with her snout. I wonder if she was searching for truffles? I was ever so glad I hadn't completed the planting.


Brighid said...

Gardens are good for our souls, I think. I have not had my heart in it since the Cowman died, but this year, I'm back at it. Heavenly that my hands are once again dirty!

Nelly said...

Bereavement does seem to knock the heart out of our pleasure in growing things. It's all about hope and looking to the future.

Cuidado said...

I have been a gardener my whole life and have taken breaks. The last one was my job running a historical site, restaurant and the huge organic garden to support it. I had nothing left in me for mine and just let it go wild. It had volunteer everything for the years but the sunflowers were the most noticeable.

I remember the days though, of three kids (4 with the live in niece) and a huge garden and putting it all by. The almighty amount of work it was but I would welcome it back for a minute at any time.

We are having a very late cold spring but I am rarin' to go because it is my way and my very favorite time of the year. Happy spring!

Nelly said...

It doesn't take long for a garden to go wild. And such a lot of work to tame it. I have to confess I do like a wild garden and love to see the plants that survive. In our village there is a carpark behind a bakery that used to be a wild and overgrown garden. It featured aquilegias, self-seeded and back to the basic Granny's Bonnet. I often think of it when I pass the concrete, tidy place it has become. Happy gardening Cuidado!

Grannymar said...

I might need a the Dutch hoe and a the Dutch hoer to sort out my back garden!

Nelly said...

Dutch hoer. Sounds terribly rude.

Cuidado said...

I started this to ask what a dutch how was bur I'm guessing it is the one with a blade at the bottom. I have several hoes but prefer an onion hoe. I have two of them.

Nelly said...

I have an onion hoe too but never knew it was called that!