One of the best things about rewilding the garden is the way it keeps surprising me.
Clumps of lemonbalm and fennel have self-seeded among the ferns, possibly from a teabag in the compost. Last year’s wildflower patch didn’t work too well (too shady, planted too late) but is now full of ox-eye daisies, red campion, honesty, poppies and bright pops of orange calendula. The overgrown lawn is rich with dandelions and clovers, alive with bumblebees, birds, butterflies, hoverflies and dragonflies.
Seeds are silently growing everywhere, flowers, herbs and vegetables shooting upwards in that mad rush of May green, but it’s the wild, neglected parts of the garden I love the most: the left-alone corners bursting with nettles, cleavers, dandelion and dead nettle to nourish and cleanse, ground ivy and forget-me-nots to provide food and shelter for the tiny creatures, herb robert, vetch and sweet honeysuckle to lift our spirits. Wild medicine for the soul!
During isolation the garden has become classroom, kitchen, church and living room. It is teacher, friend, and wise old woman. We’ve spent our days there, watching the spring unfold, finding bugs, having bonfires, learning about plants, digging, playing and generally letting them be crazy, grubby little kids while the world has turned upside down. We’ve put a rope swing up in the field. There are few sights better than watching the children trot off through the long grasses, buttercups up to their waists.
Who knows where we’re heading; it’s not really for me to say. But in the uncertainty, there is space for hope. I can’t change the world, but I can raise my children, grow a garden, make it a place of peace, a love letter to the earth. I can keep writing in the interrupted snatches of time available, cultivate gratitude, go gently, fail utterly and start all over again the next day. For now, that’s enough.
In the sweet-smelling promise of a May morning, the field is soaked in golden sunshine, hawthorn blossom filtering down like snow. The garden is lush, green and alive, vibrating with wild magic.
Perhaps in all this chaos, a beautiful future is trying to grow.