Camila’s love for the outdoors and the Ecuadorian glorious weather have pushed me to discover a passion for gardening.
I never owned a garden. In my family home we had a courtyard made of crusty cement. In all my rented accommodations in London my garden was limited to a Sainsbury’s pot of basil plunked on a windowsill which died fortnightly.
And now here we are with a hectare of land.
Now that the big stuff is out of the way, our house and guest house have been constructed, time allows us to focus on landscaping and gardening.
I confess I am a sloppy gardener. I read instruction on how to sow, where to sow, how deep to put seeds, how much to water, full sun? partly shaded? But never follow them. Just like with recipes. I skim-read them to get the gist of what it is I am supposed to do and then freestyle. And the results often visibly match the approach.
Hence why our veggie garden is looking pretty depressing with the only presence of self perpetrating goods. I throw seeds in the earth and hope for the best, so I never have those nice disciplined rows of lettuce and carrots that you see on gardening blogs and seeds packets. I am usually left with fountains of overgrown kale, carpets of oregano and mint, clusters of lettuce heads all growing on top of each others. All being raped by bushes of borage whose flowers I actually love for decorating my salads (they are purple, say no more). I also forget I am supposed to put a rotation in place so that I can have a constant supply of vegetables. I eat what grows and then wonder why nothing is coming up anymore.
So as of lately I have started to take more pleasure in exploring the flower world instead. Having lifted the pressure for bountiful production of edible produce I seem to be more prone to deal with ornamental plants with no expectation on results nor huge disappointment if nothing blooms.
And it’s proving to be very rewarding.
I started off from taking clippings of plants that had already established themselves in the chaotic planting fashion Fintan and I guesstimated in our early days.
Going to the nursery had become back then our little fetish. We’d only go to have an idea of what’s available and then just couldn’t bring ourselves to leave those nicely packaged bundles of flowers and plants behind. But then when we got home we’d realise we weren’t ready for them and to avoid having the plants die in their little bag on the porch, we just put them in the ground randomly. “Wherever, we’ll worry about it after”.
In a way that helped establish what we have now. It helped smudging the white canvas of our then desolate gardens. Ever since, we have gained more knowledge of plants and planting and propagating along with a better vision for our dream landscape. I am now simply tweaking the fruit of our naive gardening impulse of back then, moving stuff around like an interior designer would do with lights and furniture.
Once I propagated all I had available, I have started collecting clippings from friends and lately I got given sacks full of botanical bits and bobs since the rainy season is (over)due and could be a great time to plant.
I even got Camila a small gardening set toy – although predictably she prefers the real one I use – and together we spend the days pulling weeds, making holes, planting plants and watering them.
It was funny to see Camila imitating what I do, recognising how to employ each tool, and the joy on her face when she discovered how to turn the tap on and off. It took me half hour to water a hibiscus plant because she was so ecstatic about the power she had over the release of water. Open-close, open-close, open-close. Alright Camila, that’s enough!
Being in touch with the ground and plants has a soothing therapeutic effect. It’s a real form of meditation. If I sit in a lotus position and decide to meditate, all I can think of is all the emails I have yet to reply to, the bills I haven’t paid, the laundry I forgot in the washing machine, the Kit Kat I thought I’d buried in the back of the cupboard…Then I would realise I am thinking those things and quickly try to think of nothing and then I would ask myself “am I thinking of something? Or not? Is thinking of thinking allowed?” “is this real life?”
And I just give up and go check for that Kit Kat in the cupboard instead…
But with gardening I found a way of achieving a peaceful and serene form of shutting my mind.When I am out in the garden, I even reach points where I am so sucked in in my blooming peace that I even forget Camila is there (oops!).
Camila usually gets on with her business of pulling flowers and eating grass, walking back and forth, harassing the ever so patient Luigi.
Meanwhile I am absorbed in the task of pulling weeds. It doesn’t matter how often I do it, pulling weeds it’s a real mission. Weeds are like body hair, you forget about those for a few days and then all of a sudden you are like “oh hello!? what’s going on here!”, the whole tribe of them popped up like they’re going to a Carnival.
And since there is no razor to wipe them out, there I am humbly on my knees eradicating them one by one. And right then, my mind goes on holiday, it feels like a mist of harmony being sprayed inside my mind and body and everything feels so tranquil.
(Except that bloody Kit Kat, I am sure I bought an extra one…)