Tuesday, February 04, 2014


I promised I'd talk about Ged today, but names have deserted me. The sun shone as if it really meant it, and I went out into the garden. 

'Gardening' describes itself as precisely as any word ever did, but I've no idea what I'm doing. Trees and shrubs and fruit and flowers, seedheads and berries, all in a great, drifting, shifting cornucopial pile like the gold under Smaug and as inaccessible. 

I know there are plants which grow all year round, and those that are dead in the winter but burst alive in the spring like tiny green phoenix with new lettuce for wings. Some are dead once the winter comes. Some are just plain dead. 

There is pruning and there is feeding. Trimming and training. Weeding and lifting and dividing. There are plants which grow from bulbs and from seeds and from cuttings of themselves. Some have flowers you should cut, and others you should leave alone. There are things you do when it is late winter, or early autumn, and other things you do when it is growing season, supposing that you know when that is. You should cut back to an outward-facing bud to avoid shoot congestion. Try to remember where you put your secateurs and leave the blackbirds alone in the ivy.   

Today I found tiny green points. Many, many points. Green and green and green points of things living in the soft black dirt of once-was-orchard, lifting their tapering finials to the sky past the dusty dead maple leaves and unidentified clumps of dead plantish stuff with a worm sleeping underneath, suddenly inside a book from when I was small. A book, a garden in the faraway-that-is-here. 
... she thought she saw something sticking up out of the black earth---some sharp little pale green points. She remembered what Ben Weatherstaff had said, and she knelt down to look at them.
'Yes, they are tiny growing things and they might be crocuses or snowdrops or daffodils,' she whispered. 
It is Mary. She is inside the secret garden, because the robin has shown her the way.
She did not know anything about gardening, but the grass seemed so thick in some of the places where the green points were pushing their way thought that she thought they did not seem to have room enough to grow. She searched about until she found a rather sharp piece of wood and knelt down and dug and weeded out the weeds and grass until she made nice little clear places around them. 
I made little clearings around all my pale green points today---crocuses and tulips and some snow drops over against the wall under the waxy green leaves and red berries of the shrub I don't know the name of. Later it has puffs of white flowers clustered together that don't smell like anything.

'Tha' was right. A gardener couldn't have told thee better,' Dickon tells Mary. Miracle of miracles! TinyXtin was transported by Mary's success, how wonderful and inexplicable this green-point capture, the sharp stick of intuition. Mary knew! She knew what to do! She and the robin and the green points, suddenly and instantly bound into the plausible impossible of home.   
Oh! the the things that happened in that garden! If you have never had a garden, you cannot understand, and if you have had a garden, you will know that it would take a whole book to describe all that came to pass there. 
There was a garden at TinyXtin's house. With a lemon tree and a date palm whose fruit never ripened, and brush-tailed possums who fought on the roof, and tomato plants and a shrub with crimson flowers whose nectar you could suck out the bottom and tiny yellow climbing roses with burnt pink edges and a silver birch whose catkins I would crush in my fingers to watch the seeds fly. But it was a battleground between my parents and moreover I knew it was not the bright, grassy, windy, bell-like Englishness of Mary's garden, not least for the pointed contrasts with the hot, languid pointlessness of India. I was one of those that could not understand.  

But now I am here, and pale green points come up through the black earth and I make little clearings around them, because Mary taught me to. 

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