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The Autumn garden

Last night the weather really turned. The promise of summer coming to an end had already been in the air for a while, but yesterday we were hit with a cold wind and buckets of rain. I had spent the morning in the garden, transplanting herbs from my containers into the ground, working against the clock when I was hit with bucket loads of water from the heavens. Normally rain doesn't bother me, but even I had to take cover indoors from the storm.

Autumn is here and I need to heed the call to rest; and integrate all the growth and expansion of summer. It was wonderful to move into our new home during the summer as I had lots of energy to take the action that is needed to land in a new place. I think that I had extra energy because I am planning on being here for a long time and the excitement of putting dreams into place after so many years got me up early every day.

We have a beautiful and established garden, so it has been a real joy to spend time in it in the mornings, listening to the birds, watching the way the sun warms the grass and the plants. I take my breakfast outside and sit in the sun, after which I do my garden inspection, paying attention to what is growing, what takes my breath away and what kind of falls flat in my heart. I love this process of quiet contemplation, where I connect with the stillness of the morning and allow myself to be inspired. Often this morning wander gives me enough inspiration to know what to do next in the garden. But if not, I know that all I need to do is to start pulling weeds and before I know it, I am planting something or taking something out.

I have almost found homes for all my potted plants that came with me. Last week I planted my plum trees in an area that will be transformed into a permaculture orchard. There are a few established plants in that particular area and I am still contemplating where and how to move them. I recently read "Habitat" by AB Bishop and am using it as inspiration for my next steps in the garden. My promise to this land has been to take care of it and I have learned how important it is to include native (but specifically endemic) plants in the eco system if we are to truly support it. I have not figured out whether these plants are useful to the garden eco system yet, so they will stay in the ground until I decide that they should be transplanted elsewhere in the garden, given away or taken out and used for mulch.

I don't know about you, but I cannot kill a plant. It kind of breaks my heart, so when I grow veggies, things take a long time to leave my space. A lot of gardeners pull plants out all the time to make space for the next season's crops, but I just can't do it. I think it is a combination of the way my parents would garden.

My dad grew up in a national park (my grandfather was a game ranger and environmentalist) and his attitude to growing things is that they need to be able to survive on their own. He doesn't molly coddle any plant and throws his apple cores in the backyard to become compost. I love his attitude and I have an intention of building up my soil and environment naturally without too much intervention from me. This is where using native plants and my dislike of perfectly manicured gardens comes from. I dislike topiary due to the amount of work it entails and also because mother nature always wins and I don't really see the point in cutting a plant when it has it's own mind anyway.

On the other hand, I am influenced by my mum's love of beauty, flowers, serenity and good design. Every home we ever owned was always transformed by my parents into a paradise and my fondest memories are of going to the garden centre with my mum and walking through the gardens she created. If I ever come to visit you, I will ask to see your garden and will happily spend hours talking to you about which flower that is and how old this tree is. Sharing plants and seeds is always something I welcome.

I vividly remember my mum being so distraught when my dad would prune her beloved plants and to this day whenever I see someone using secateurs or heaven forbid a chainsaw, I start to cry. When my dad comes to visit me, he spends the first few days pruning all my plants while I cry about it. He always tells me that they need it and that they will come back healthier and happier. And he is right, just like he was right with my mum's plants.

So, I have learned to embrace the wild garden and the manicured garden. Nature will do her thing, but she also needs our help. We are after all, part of nature and it is a privilege to be a custodian of the soil we tend to.

As we head into the colder months, I will probably be retreating to the fire place more, I am proud of what I have accomplished in my garden in the last few months. There is lots more to come - a veggie garden, a pond, a cottage garden, a shade garden and a whole front garden transformation. Nature is in no hurry, so I will take my cues from her and enjoy the rest that is coming by the fire.

Keeping house is such a joy, don't you think?

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