Gardening was in my nurture and it’s in my nature too.
My mother was a keen gardener from a rural part of the Netherlands but my father was a Dutch inner city lad, by nature as well as by birth: his first 30 years were lived at home with his parents and siblings on a compact Amsterdam dwelling with 4 levels and with (perhaps) a flower box for a garden – and watered by the Lowlands’ rain and humidity. No wonder dad had two left hands.
I can’t remember Mum’s gardens in the Netherlands, but at age 5 we moved to Australia and being her eldest and also a conscientious details person she often relied on me to water her sizable and valuable vegie patch. She recognized me as a kindred spirit long before I became aware of that. During her senior years her gardens were the talk of our community.
Helen and I both love plants and gardening, but during our family and working life together, gardening soon had to come off the “to do” list. Before that however, one of the joys of our first appointment was that it was to a small country town church surrounded by farms and livestock saleyards, so it wasn’t hard there to have a flourishing vegetable garden in short time – and we did.
Six years later we took on our 2nd appointment in the southern suburbs of Sydney, with many chicken sheds nearby …then. Yet despite considerable joint dedication it proved impossible to build up the sandstone soils and invest regular time in serious gardening. So we closed our new beds, planted some low-care Australian natives and devoted ourselves to our family and work.
Postings 3 and 4 were much the same: church and school employment, 4 children and ageing parents interstate kept pushing the garden to the “essentials only” part of our jobs list.
But as I’ve written in earlier posts, retirement has seen us able to get our hands dusty and muddy once again – and we can do it together now. Our garden is a delight. And we’re discovering what a “spiritual” experience gardening is for Christian people alert to the truths of their faith and of horticulture.
Something about that next time.