The House With The Pink Shutters – The Garden of Surprises.
One of the goals for 2016, before we headed off to Asia to avoid the cold and wet weather of Europe, was to dig up the garden ready for planting this year. Not as easy as we thought, as the main weed of the garden was a tree that grows upwards, outwards, downwards and like bindweed proliferates from tiny bits of root. I have no idea what it is called so let’s just name it a triffid tree. Four of us over a period of 5 months dug, cleared, chopped, sawed, raked, pruned the orange and lemon trees, cleared a ridiculous amount of rubbish that the neighbours had chucked down into the garden from their balconies and sorted out the pump that draws up water from the well.
Dreading a jungle when we returned, it was a pleasant surprise to find the land full of knee-high alpine and wild flowers albeit sprinkled liberally with grass and weeds but, thankfully, no triffid trees. The orange and lemon trees were full and ready for harvesting however, we had been told that the oranges were the bitter and they would only be only good for marmalade so they were left alone.
Before we could get someone to plough up the soil we needed to clear the new growth. Three days into the task, under a burning sun I started to eye up the fat, ripe oranges hanging just above my nose and fantasize about rough cut marmalade, orange and chocolate cake, chicken and orange, which is odd because I really don’t like oranges – all that pith, pips and tough pulp….. yuk! but I must have been hungry because I decided to try one to see how bitter they actually were. I ate the whole thing! It was one of the tastiest, sweetest fruit I had eaten in a longtime and organic to boot. We have been picking oranges for over a month now and have freshly squeezed juice every day. admittedly some of it with vodka but hey at least vitamin C deficiency is not an issue.
Not long after our first batch of juice, the land was cleared and ploughed. I had planted a small amount of tomatoes, rhubarb, beetroot, peppers, herbs, runner beans, peas, egg-plant, strawberries, chinese kale, peas and Bok choy and other vegetables in pots up at the house as a back up just in case things went pear shaped down at the garden. Ready to go we trooped down the hill, seeds in hand, dug out channels for the water, set up the pump and before planting set it in motion to test out the irrigation system. Some time later after unplugging the filters and hose pipes several times we checked the motor. It had burned out!. Planting was put on hold.
The day finally arrived. Water was pumping out of the well via the new equipment. Onions, beetroot, carrots, peas, runner beans peppers, garlic, tomatoes, chinese greens, Kale, and so much more was finally in the ground. I was exhausted, happy and looking forward to watching the plants grow. That is until I woke up the next day. A storm hit the island and howled for 2 days solid. Winds of up to gale force eight moaned and groaned, pushing, plucking those who dared to venture out of the house off their feet. From the safety of the house, I watched the sun umbrella’s 50kg concrete base rock under the table as the wind tried to suck it off the patio and knew that the garden would be destroyed. Top soil and seeds flung asunder, carefully labelled identifying pegs lost, orange trees stripped bare.
So now I have no idea what is growing and where. Am I cultivating grass or are those onions seedlings? Does that look like beetroot or just weeds? Where are the tomato plants? Some of the earth banks remain stubbornly bare whilst there is a plethora of different seedlings sprouting up in one place but what are they? Is that a pea sprouting meters away from where I planted it? I have resolved to let everything grow and try to identify things when they are more mature.
However, there is something quite nice about the element of the unknown. Reminiscent of Christmas and the Secret Santa gift giving, but instead of pulling out a gift from a sack I will be pulling out a vegetable from the ground and what lies under the wrapping of soil will be either delightful or disappointing but in both instances certainly unexpected. Yes I have my back up plants but I think I prefer a Garden of Surprises.