on gardening

Terrace Garden

High on our list of criteria when we moved house last November, was a balcony, or terrace, or garden – really any kind of outdoor space that we could call ours. We loved our last flat, but it was so sad on sunny days not to be able to just wander outside with a book. It was always a bigger mission to go find a park or square to sit in. And it meant we resorted to indoor bbq meals. Which are fun in themselves, but still, a terrace was high on our wishlist.

The wonderful thing about our new flat is that is has not one, but TWO terraces. I think the terraces may have sealed the deal when we were shown around. The rest of the flat is lovely too, but have so much space? *Happy Sigh*

We are on the third floor, and there’s a slight downhill slope to the back of our house, which means we look over our neighbours’ roofs. And suddenly there is all this SKY to look at. So much space and blue and clouds and even at night we sit and watch movies and I see out of the corner of my eye, the big lights of the planes as they head in from waaaay out of the horizon in to the city airport.

If you’ve been hanging around here a while, you may remember my nearly-fruitless attempts in our old flat to grow something we could eat. It turns out that sunlight is in fact quite crucial to plants being able to survive and prosper. Who’d have thought? Whereas my dear parents will spend happy hours caring for their amazing little garden, the one chilli that Rasmus and I got to eat from that harvest proved to me that green fingers are not, unfortunately, genetic.

But now we have a biggish terrace, and it faces south, with sunlight from dawn until a few hours before dusk. So no excuse for not trying again.

Friday I headed to the garden centre and promptly called my mum at work to distract her from tax returns and accounts to ask her what on earth I should buy. I came home with some cherry tomato plants, chilli plants, lettuce, rosemary, mint, fuscias and some other flowering plants that I’ve forgotten the name of already. We already had basil, radish and strawberry seeds already so they got planted too.

I spent Saturday morning transplanting everything into bigger pots, while Rasmus did the sterling job of cleaning the whole terrace of its greenish tinge. There is something about gardening that is strangely fulfilling. Something about getting dirt under your fingernails, something about gently wriggling plants out of their too-small pots and teasing roots out from their knots. Something about watering your baby plants for the first time, as you say a “please God, don’t let me kill them this time” prayer, that brings a deep satisfaction.

I think it has to do with how meaningful it is to grow and create. It is inherently human, I believe, to want to see things grow, to enjoy creating with our hands (or our minds, or even, when we become parents, our bodies). It’s the way we’re wired like the one who created us and is continuously creating this world we’re in.

Terrace Garden

For now, my garden is a modest one. Half a dozen pots enjoying the sunniest spot on the terrace, and a few more baby plants enjoy the warm window position until I decided, like a nervous over-protective mother, that maybe they’re strong enough to brave the outdoor elements.

I can see them from here, where I sit at my desk next to the window. And in glancing over just now, I noticed that already, only 48 hours after they were set down there, they are reaching themselves towards the window and towards the sunlight.

And so it makes me think that these little plants are a little like me: in need of warmth and energy in order to grow stronger, until I’m ready to brave the elements myself.

Some days I feel slow in my adventures. I feel I should be moving faster, I should be successful today. Those plants remind me that growth happens in stages, and trying to rush ahead to the next stage before I’m ready will only result in drooping leaves, broken stems and frostbite. Or whatever the human equivalents are!

I’ll keep you updated on how my little garden is doing. OH! And the gnome? My new friend. Rasmus thinks we should have waited another, oh, thirty years before choosing to enter the gnome-owning stage of life, if ever. But I like him. So he stays…