Welcome to a new A Meaningful Garden post! Today's Meaningful Gardener is someone who I stumbled on via my very favourite place, Instagram. Hannah Cooper writes a gorgeous blog, The Tree Diaries - I highly highly recommend popping over there if you love beautiful photography and want some garden inspo. I love that she calls their garden The Coopermarket, and I love that she is super real about the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to building a garden from scratch and growing at least some of your own food (if you've been drowning under an enormous weight of tomatoes, read this post - good advice Han!).
My favourite line from this post?
"But I am indeed a gardener, someone who finds meaning in the botanical spaces that we create for ourselves and others"
Read on, and enjoy!
My journey to gardening has been haphazard and plagued by botanicide. It hasn’t been a glorious tale of success, but it has been nothing short of joyful. Gardening has been the most consistent source of pleasure for me throughout the years. While other hobbies or interests have flared briefly and slowly petered out out (or sometimes ended in a spectacularly childish tantrum), my love of gardens has been constant and deep.
My very first garden was a 6 by 3 feet patch on my parent’s bottom lawn… It looked rather like a burial plot and, somewhat disconcertingly for my parents, it appeared one weekend when they were away. I’m not sure what they thought I was planning to do with it (or them!), but it was quickly overtaken by their vigorous lawn and produced not a thing.
My second garden was in the backyard of a share house, where I lived crammed in with three (sometimes four) surfer boys who had absolutely no interest in what I did out there… At the start of each semester I would become consumed with a desire to grow ALL the things, but by mid-terms the garden dream would quickly be replaced with emergency cramming sessions (and then, let’s be honest, celebratory party sessions).
My third garden, the one that set the stage for my gardening life today, was perhaps the most unlikely of places to find my green thumb. It was precariously perched on the teeny tiniest balcony in inner city Sydney. There was barely room to move out there, and junkies regularly got high just beneath it, but during my years pottering in that “garden” I learnt so very much about nurturing plants - and myself. It was my escape. What others thought of my tiny plot was irrelevant because it meant the world to me.
These days I find myself with 20 acres in the country, and my husband and I are simultaneously growing a family and a garden from scratch, out of bare, barren ground. While we grow food, flowers, and many other things, I feel slightly disingenuous calling myself a "gardener" as the state of our garden often makes a mockery of that term. But I am indeed a gardener, someone who finds meaning in the botanical spaces that we create for ourselves and others. And there are days - boy are there days - when the only thing that saves me from my own spiralling thoughts is time in my garden, as imperfect as it may be.
To my mind, the meaning of a garden doesn't come from its location, its beauty or its output. It is the process of gardening, the very act of trying to grow and nurture plants, the connection with something so innate to our species and yet (too often) so foreign to our generation - the very essence of a meaningful garden.