16 February, 2009

Gardening Leave

Got a couple of days' leave for the kids' half-term. Oh my God, I did some gardening for the first time ever and it was such fun! I spent most of it clearing the garden walls of creepers, which in the shrubby corner down by the huge tree, was a bit like being Klaus Kinski in Fitzcarraldo, hacking my way through the impenetrable jungle, using only a penknife. At one point I was completely immobilised by the creepers, like the heroine in one of those Saturday afternoon potboilers. I was expecting the beds to be rockhard, but in fact obviously the last lot had taken some care with them. However, the pocket handkerchief sized lawn, which we are planning to turn into fruit and veg beds, I fully expect to require the hiring of a rotary cultivator and generous helpings of horse manure.

Here's a little tribute to gardens:

The Garden
by Andrew Marvell

How vainly men themselves amaze
To win the palm, the oak, or bays ;
And their uncessant labors see
Crowned from some single herb or tree,
Whose short and narrow-verg├Ęd shade
Does prudently their toils upbraid ;
While all the flowers and trees do close
To weave the garlands of repose.

Fair Quiet, have I found thee here,
And Innocence, thy sister dear!
Mistaken long, I sought you then
In busy companies of men :
Your sacred plants, if here below,
Only among the plants will grow ;
Society is all but rude,
To this delicious solitude.

No white nor red was ever seen
So amorous as this lovely green ;
Fond lovers, cruel as their flame,
Cut in these trees their mistress' name.
Little, alas, they know or heed,
How far these beauties hers exceed!
Fair trees! wheresoe'er your barks I wound
No name shall but your own be found.

When we have run our passion's heat,
Love hither makes his best retreat :
The gods who mortal beauty chase,
Still in a tree did end their race.
Apollo hunted Daphne so,
Only that she might laurel grow,
And Pan did after Syrinx speed,
Not as a nymph, but for a reed.

What wondrous life is this I lead!
Ripe apples drop about my head ;
The luscious clusters of the vine
Upon my mouth do crush their wine ;
The nectarine and curious peach
Into my hands themselves do reach ;
Stumbling on melons as I pass,
Insnared with flowers, I fall on grass.

Meanwhile the mind, from pleasure less,
Withdraws into its happiness :
The mind, that ocean where each kind
Does straight its own resemblance find ;
Yet it creates, transcending these,
Far other worlds, and other seas ;
Annihilating all that's made
To a green thought in a green shade.

Here at the fountain's sliding foot,
Or at some fruit-tree's mossy root,
Casting the body's vest aside,
My soul into the boughs does glide :
There like a bird it sits and sings,
Then whets and combs its silver wings ;
And, till prepared for longer flight,
Waves in its plumes the various light.

Such was that happy garden-state,
While man there walked without a mate :
After a place so pure and sweet,
What other help could yet be meet!
But 'twas beyond a mortal's share
To wander solitary there :
Two paradises 'twere in one
To live in Paradise alone.

How well the skillful gard'ner drew
Of flowers and herbs this dial new ;
Where from above the milder sun
Does through a fragrant zodiac run ;
And, as it works, th' industrious bee
Computes its time as well as we.
How could such sweet and wholesome hours
Be reckoned but with herbs and flowers!


Blogger SMW said...

Rotivator? You wuss.

There's a sort of slow gardening movement going on - let nature reclaim your land and it will feed you with all the nuts and berries that you could desire. But since it sounds as if you're not prepared to wait the years it will take to get there, suggest you get a parang or jungle knife when next in Malaysia.

6:31 am  
Blogger FBT said...

you are right. We do not need a rotavator, because I do believe we will be having a houseguest next weekend who is small but tough, and likes nothing better than digging rock-hard earth.

11:37 pm  
Blogger SMW said...

Memo to self: leave the stylish purple wellies at home. And buy dictionary.

6:24 am  
Blogger fumier said...

You promised to answer the question from your previous post in this one.

10:43 am  

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