When I first started observing nature…really observing it, I realised just how unique and intricate each individual plant was; with its own traits, preferences, requirements and quirks.
And we don’t often take a lot of time to stop and look at Nature.
Myself included. After 6 years of city living, in London, I found that I had almost zoned out from the natural world, far away from my rural upbringing. When I returned to Yorkshire recently to live, for the first time as an ‘adult’ struggling to figure life out and taking random leaps of faith in the hope that something of optimistic significance would come my way…I started a wildlife garden…and I experienced a perspective on nature that was…different…to the childish running around in barefoot that I had known before. And it was all to do…with plants…
Some were hardy…and grew tall with ease needing little encouragement. Others took more time to thrive and were more sensitive to the environment. Some needed sheltered ground spaces and fleeces to guide them through the long winter months. Some took more time to grow tall, but once they had established their roots they would flower and spread so far that their branches quickly overshadowed the one that had first grown so quickly. Each then needed cutting back; to avoid each taking over the other…allowing both plants to thrive. Nature’s species’ do seem to have their own sneaky ways of trying to state their own dominance over the other.
Some plants stay small. They might not spread their seeds very far, preferring to focus their energy on producing tiny fruits or intricately beautiful flowers. Others help to pollinate all of their neighbours and attract wildlife. They kind of reminded me of teacher some-how. Then there’s the ones who just want to live in solitude seemingly quite content in their cold dark habitats.
I didn’t even like them all. Ivy is a dominant little shit.
But I realised that each one had a place in my garden. My garden would thrive best if I could somehow utilise each of the plant’s best qualities. I surmised that…surely they’d be their healthiest and happiest and have the best chance to thrive if I simply did what they wanted. I had just started a garden…on a barren piece of clay land next to the farm. So I had to accept each plant’s individual needs and requirements if this was going to work.
And so, I adhered to every plant’s needs…and went about planting each in their most desired location…amongst their favourite neighbours (at least, to the best of my ability!). I had to care for some more, as they needed me more at that time. While others only needed me to check in with them every few days or so. Some I nurtured each day wrapping in cloth and caring for them through the colder nights. That same plant, in summer I could see thrive and blossom and fruit, well worth my wait and nurturing.
I am joined in my garden by a Willow tree. He needs no help from me. Only to protect him. To keep him competitor free and destruction safe. I walk past him each day and smile that we each are content in each other’s co-inhabitance.
It left me thinking, perhaps even in a self-humouring way, what plant I should like to be…you know, pretend we’re in Wonderland and just go with it…Well I have been doing some considering lately and…if we could choose…I think I’d most like to be a borage.