It’s that time of year. The garden has had its well needed haircut. Actually it was overdue as we missed last year because the person we use had injured his hand and couldn’t wield the implements. Not that it’s a big garden. By the time we got around to finding someone else to the job time had flown and a whole other year had gone by.
It’s done now though and I can see parts of the garden I had long abandoned. All the bushes had grown at least half a metre into the space, the garden was half its size and it had a dark and cloying feeling. The cutting back has let in light, restored the garden to its proper size and I have now found pathways that have been hidden beneath the foliage.
The trimming is just the start however and we spent the next day picking up bits of leaf and dead branches. I’ve tidied up a few loose ends, staked and tied up sagging bushes and can now see bare patches of soil between the different plants. All of the shrubs and trees have a proper definition.
I can stand back and feel happy with what has been achieved. Middle class sensibilities have been restored.
Yet what is the obsession we have with neatness and tidiness. Is it a western thing or do others suffer from it across the globe? When we think of gardens we think of plants in borders, lawns with clearly defined edges, neat shrubs against a backdrop of more mature trees all in their right place and all separate from each other.
This is not how nature sees herself. Plants grapple with each other, grow on top of one another, intermingle their branches and bend into strange shapes in order to catch the light. Nature abhors a vacuum and seemingly abhors neatness as well. Chaos and disorder are the orders of the day. Tidy gardens are a human fetish, all part of our need to tame and control.
I don’t think of myself as a controlling person but perhaps mother nature knows me better. It could be that my neat and tidy garden is a window into my real soul.