While autumn is not generally a time associated with new life, I’m focussed on green. Leaves from the Liquid Amber next door are falling softly, blanketing the ground in next season’s compost. The Japanese Maple, also next door though I try to pretend it’s on my side of the fence, is a dome of fiery red. My Japanese Maple, about knee-high to a grasshopper and looking as though it wished it lived next door, is shrivelling quietly, the edges of its tiny leaves crisping up to brown.
But I’m not looking at all that show-off stuff.
Mr3 and I spent a day in the garden last week. We ripped out the last of the summer basil, carefully stripping off every useable leaf to make into pesto. We uprooted the capsicum shrubs, so leafy, so green, so fruitless for so long. The two shallots that survived were dispatched to the compost bin. We dug and weeded, weeded and dug.
We had seedlings to plant.
When you’re planting seedlings with a three-year-old you need two things: a good supply of little tools (because he’ll want whatever you’re using) and a sharp eye. Two rows of spinach went in without incident. Two rows of cauliflower – at the other end of the bed – were also planted with no fuss. Once we got to the middle, however…well, that was a different story.
When you’re three, the best place to be when you’re gardening is in the garden bed. And while you’re okay with keeping a weather eye on the plants in front of you, you’re not so on the ball with the ones under your feet. Or your bottom, as the case may be.
A row of lettuces, a row of shallots, a row of celery – all flattened twice by a person who looks small on the outside of the garden bed, and like Ian Thorpe, all size 14 feet, on the inside of it.
But we did it. One garden bed, all neatly planted out. We go out and check them every day, and he’s practising watering them softly – “like rain, Mummy”. He removes the snails, placing them carefully on the other side of the garden (from where I hope it will take them at least a week to return). And we both watch, anxiously, to see if they’ll survive the slug onslaught that’s bound to occur any day now.
If all goes to plan, we have the makings of a fine vegetable soup in that garden. If it doesn’t, there’s always rhubarb.