Here goes another blog. In the last week I have had a couple of people actually message me and ask me when I am I going to write another blog! That has never happened before and it is a bit of a shock! I never imagine anyone actually reading them. So I’m going I’ll give it a lash.
One of the many reasons I struggle to complete anything is the fact we are in midsummer and there is just so much going on. My garden is full on at the moment and I spend every moment I can, sometimes in the wind and rain doing the jobs I want to get on with. It is not a chore or anything, it is what I want to do, I have all these ideas during the winter and then we have this growing period and I am aware that time is limited. I have a big garden as it covers around 5 acres, I don’t grow on every part of it but I still manage the land. Jobs like drainage, hedge building, fencing, as well as the planting and growing side of things all takes time let alone any of the odd art and design projects I dream up. I am generally up with the sun and have to be called into diner in the evening and I go from one job to another, more of a series of pottering s than a rush about. I am not manic about it there is plenty of sitting down and staring at the view goes into my day.
I do also have to fit work into my schedule; I have a few clients whose gardens I tend. I enjoy the break and the challenge and I get a great sense of satisfaction seeing their gardens once a week slowly transform and there is something special about other people’s gardens. Most of my clients are not really “gardeners,” but people who want a garden and just need a helping hand, I find some of my work is about empowerment. I think of the garden as the most important room in the house, it is the space where we connect with nature, our natural environment. The house is where we go to sleep and cook and keep dry but the garden is where we can really live. I know that is not the same for everyone, if we were all the same life would be very dull but for me helping someone create a space where they can be surrounded by life, plants growing, birds singing and bees buzzing that is a real pleasure and when you see someone start to really connect with that aspect of their lives it is like a light being switched on, an awakening of something primal it can really affect people’s lives in a such a positive way.
So my garden is my personal space created and nurtured rather than imposed upon the land. If I did nothing to it nature would get on happily without me but when we work together I get the chance to connect with something so powerful it feels like a real privilege. That brings me to my latest project and to tell the truth I don’t think I thought it through thoroughly. It was more of an instinctive idea, it seemed right but I must admit I am a bit unsure how I really feel about it.
During this period of “lockdown,” the kids’ education went on line, Kate continued her yoga on line and I became aware of the wonders of Zoom. We do live in a very remote location and I try to keep involved in the “real” world but driving an hour or so to attend meetings is a bit of a crap shoot, some I come away with thinking that was great but too many times I have come away thinking that was a waste of time. However I do like Zoom webinars and there have been such a variety of things to get involved with. Obviously with my interest in gardening and nature I had a look at a number of webinars on ecology, biodiversity and the environment and took part in discussions about rewilding and organic growing techniques. Simply mind blowing that I could “chat” with horticulturalists and ecologists from all over the world from the comfort of my own home, sometimes just lying in bed propped up with a cushion with a cup of coffee or a gin and elderflower fizz.
We watched the Irish Student Awards on line as my eldest daughter Mair was nominated for Student Activist of the Year. She was Chair of the UCC Fáilte Society last year which is a society dedicated to supporting the rights of Asylum Seekers among other things. I am extremely proud of her achievements. she has been so active in so many areas since a young age with a strong sense of justice and equality. We often have heated debates; I think she would hate me saying that we are very similar as she is fiercely proud of her own independence. Anyway she sent me a link for a series of webinars in regards to racism in Ireland and the Covid 19 Crisis. Not your average evening’s entertainment but I thought I would have a look, I can’t say it was easy to listen to the different experiences of those taking part. It was to say the least thought provoking. I make no bones about the fact I have gone to great lengths to live an alternative lifestyle. I don’t generally like the way the world is, I have made some effort to change it but the tide of capitalism, commercialisation and quite simply the first nose to the trough attitude that surrounds me is just too big and systemic for me to deal with. I have resorted to trying to create my own microcosm and just live in my own small way in this quiet corner of the world. The enormity of the struggle that some of these people have faced is simply overwhelming. So I wondered if there was anything I could actually do to participate in a positive way.
Working away in my garden I was running some of what I had heard over in my mind and I came up with an idea to try and raise money for a local organisation dedicated to helping in this area. When Mair was doing her transition year at Secondary School she asked if she could help with a local Asylum Seekers’ centre and I managed to contact the Clonakilty Friends of Asylum Seekers. I had visited their Community Garden while I was looking into setting one up in my local village. So I contacted them with an idea about auctioning off some tickets for a tour of my garden and they were happy for me to do so as with the Covid 19 restrictions they were unable to run their usual fundraising.
In essence my idea was pretty simple, to advertise 10 tickets with 4 people per ticket and an on line secret auction based through an event on my Facebook Page where people could message me with a bid for a ticket and the Top 10 bids would get one. These tickets could be used anytime in the future. At the time we had travel restrictions so the idea was they could be used after the restrictions were lifted. As there would only be a maximum of 4 per ticket and myself that also came under the restriction of only a maximum of 6 people getting together in groups.
I set up an event page and asked all my friends and family to share it to try and promote the event. A couple of years ago a friend suggested I open my garden to the public by joining the West Cork Garden Trail. I thought about it but decided not to, mainly because I was very unsure about having people enter my “sanctuary.” To some that might sound a little daft but my garden is a part of me and that probably sounds even more daft! Exposing myself to public scrutiny is not what my garden is about. I experiment a lot, I make loads of mistakes and I don’t think my garden is a “show” garden in anyway. Friends who have had a look round all say it is great but it is more of an adventure than a viewing gallery. It is a great place to play hide and seek or to sit and gaze at the view from the meadow but I have no idea what “strangers” who have paid to come and have a look will make of it. But it is too late now to get cold feet the final bids have to be in by tomorrow (July 1st) and I am committed, I just hope those who come to see it feel it is worth the entrance fee. I know The Clonakilty Friends of Asylum Seekers will be delighted with the funds and I hope it will bring some joy to those who have been stuck in limbo for so long.
I recently won a prize in a national competition called The Big Grow Show run by Grow It Yourself Ireland (GIY) and sponsored by Innocent Drinks and Karen O’Donoghue one of the presenters of Grow Cook Eat gave my “Walk & Talk” a shout out on social media and through that I have received a few more bids. Innocent Ireland offered to provide some drinks for the event but I asked them if they would send them to the Asylum Seekers instead and they kindly agreed. There are over 40 kids living at the Direct Provision Centre I do hope that it brings them a little joy.
As for me, it has given me some motivation to try and clear up some of those awkward corners, jobs on the long finger so to speak and I do look forward to showing some people around, they’ll probably think I am a bit mad with all my stories of plants and stuff but in for a penny in for a pound.
That just about wraps up this blog, the day has started and it is only slightly drizzling and like a fool I left the onions out to dry yesterday so they will need to be brought in and laid out to dry off. And I better get on. If you are one of the people who are successful in your bid I hope you enjoy your visit and please tread softly on my dreams.