Pensive thoughts on a rainy Saturday

I do not know whether it was the rainy Saturday that made me pensive or whether it was my somewhat melancholy state of mind. Either way, I took a damp walk around the area we call the park. While the autumn colours seem quite striking this year and relatively early considering we have only had two cold days so far, I am not sure that damp autumn days are uplifting to my soul.

But I have been pondering the differences between those of us who see gardening as a process and those who see it as a product. I am happier in the company of the former – those who enjoy the act of gardening and see it as a journey where there may be a destination in mind but experience says that such a goal will be but transient and fleeting and not an end point at all.  For a garden can never be static and frozen in time so will never be finished or full. I suspect these are the characteristics of a gardener.

There are many who see a garden as a product – a particular destination or point of achievement in a creation that can then be frozen in time. This, I think, is probably a viewpoint of a garden owner who is not a gardener by nature. I felt a passing pang of sympathy for landscape designers. I would guess the majority of their paying clients fall into this category. Some may come to understand the whims of nature but many more make a rod for their backs, requiring that a garden be preserved in pristine condition at a certain point of its development.

But Sunday dawned fine and dry which meant my usual cheerful disposition was restored. We cannot complain about an autumn which delivers us a  daytime temperature of 24 degrees Celsius and night time temperature still well into double figures. Behold Mark’s pride and joy – his luverly bunches o’ bananas. Several lovely bunches. We are super marginal when it comes to growing bananas for tropical we are not. These are the only plants we cover for winter – festooned in protective shade cloth suspended on a giant bamboo frame.

Drying and then cleaning the soy bean crop before weighing and storing

An unusually warm and long summer may well have helped. It has certainly given us the best ever second crop of figs with which we are barely keeping pace eating fresh. And a bumper soy bean crop. I mean, what are we meant to do with 20 kg of soy beans when there are only two of us? I have made the first batch of soy milk to see if we will enjoy using it as a dairy substitute and I am even contemplating trying my hand at making tofu. Readers who have met Mark may be amused to hear that he calculated his 20 kg of cleaned soy beans as a yield of 3.6 tonnes to the hectare and was gratified to find from a net search that this is on the good side when it comes to commercial yields. I admit that I am grateful that he only flirted briefly with the idea of growing lentils. Considering how cheap these are to buy, the potential yield per hectare seems remarkably low. But I did not realise that Canada is the main global producer of lentils until I did a did a net search.

Persimmons are probably more decorative than a must-have harvest

Otherwise, the autumn harvest here is all about avocados, yet more avocados (guacamole, anybody?), seemingly endless feijoas, the aforementioned figs and the impending deluge of persimmons. Dudley dog is looking so plump from his excessive consumption of avocados that his flesh how has ripples of fat and his ongoing issues with eczema have disappeared – quite possibly due to the high oil content of the avocados. Mark checks several times a day for windfalls in an attempt to outwit this dog thief.

It seems churlish to bemoan the occasional rainy autumn day.

6 thoughts on “Pensive thoughts on a rainy Saturday

  1. tonytomeo

    Landscape designers must see their landscapes as a product, at least for the short term, so that there is a definite ‘finish’ to it. Then, the good ones get on with the maintenance of it. I see my horticultural crops as products because they get sold when they are done. However, the process of growing more and keeping up with the seasonality of the work will never end, even long after I am gone. (I do happen to prefer the ‘regularity’ of growing similar crops from season to season. That would bore most others.) Working in the arboretum at the farm, or the landscaped areas is so much fun, even though it is outside of my element, perhaps because it is more of a process than a product. It will NEVER be finished. Some of those trees have been growing for centuries. By the time they are done, there will by ‘younger’ ones to continue on for more centuries!

  2. Tim Dutton

    I totally agree with you about the process being why we garden. It is inconceivable to me that our garden could ever be a finished product, in fact we bought this piece of land to make sure that wouldn’t happen. We had our previous quarter acre for 10 years and by the end of that there was nothing left to develop and just maintenance to keep it looking nice. That didn’t appeal much. This summer the removal of some Douglas-firs along our boundary has opened up exciting new possibilities for another area of garden and some other projects get pushed into the future as a result. We love the process and the changeable workload. I do wish I could spend 2 lifetimes on it though: one to make the mistakes as we progress through trial and error and the other to see it in its maturity.

    1. Abbie Jury Post author

      I do not think I could be bothered gardening if I didn’t enjoy the process. May you live long and well to see your efforts mature.

  3. Robyn Kilty

    You are right – as a garden designer, I know that most clients do expect a finished product. I have to remind them that the product they have asked me to design for them is actually a living growing entity. Which means it will change – it could sport flowers or berries and horror of horror lose it’s leaves! And even worse it will grow! They look at me in surprise, as though they don’t believe it won’t always be that nice compact little green shrub which has just been planted.
    I try to get them to be enthusiastic about the idea that the fun of a garden is it’s changing state and the vision of the way it may become as those plants develop and grow. Some would like to give me the sack on the spot – others gradually come around to the idea and realise that a garden could be the start of something good, and gardening a creative pursuit. Not just a nasty chore to be borne. If a client begins to understand this, then I believe I have done my job.
    I would love to comment on the bananas, avocados, persimmons and other treats, but coming from frosty Christchurch, such sub-tropical treats from the garden are beyond my gardening comfort zone.

    1. Abbie Jury Post author

      None of this surprises me. But I am glad that I do not have to deal with these clients. Mark and I are scarred enough by our years of selling plants to many customers who may well be of this type.

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