I have tried many times to grow Rosemary and failed, frustrated and confused by black and brown charred leaves and brittle stems. I researched position and soils for optimum growth. I thought I had planted her in the correct amount of Sandy soil and in the right position and yet I was continuously faced with a crispy skeletal silhouette at each the summer’s end.
I pass two lush deep green Rosemary plants near the entrance of my estate almost daily; here they survive the endless traffic and the passing children who absent-mindlessly pull at branches and snap twigs. They live despite teenage brutality and dogs marking their territory. These aromatic plants display clouds of pale blue flowers in the late spring and mid-summer and even sometimes in winter. For me Rosemary had never flowered, never quite survived. However, that has all changed now.
Around this time last year during my reading of Mary Reynolds “The Garden Awakening” I completed a meditative walk around my garden the small space I am blessed to be sharing my life with. It was during this connection to the little pieces of land around my home that I became acutely aware that the little chessboard patio and a large concrete compass both with inches of foundation cement had to go! I knew I had to unblock my back garden, decongest concrete from the roots and soils, remove all barriers to Mother Nature herself and allow the life force of the garden to flow freely and to animate life once again and unencumbered.
Initially I was completely overwhelmed. How on earth was I going to honor my gardens request? A friend suggested just getting a lump hammer and “just start” and see where the “Universe” guided me. So, I phoned my father who is in his late 70s and during our conversation said he just happened to have a jackhammer hanging round his shed? I didn’t ask any questions. (This is just slightly weird as he is a Doctor and not in the building trade) And he was gracious enough not to laugh too much at my strange request. Between the two of us we managed to shift tons of cement patio and concrete and bit by bit I felt like my garden could breathe again. We lifted large railway sleepers, shifted massive stones and debris. It took a few months, but I did it thanks to help from my father and my son and my wheelbarrow and an inner belief that this was all going to come right.
It felt like a labor of love and with every lump of concrete that I put into the skip I was also liberating a part of myself. As I unburdened the roots of my great Oak tree allowing the land to breathe once again, I also found myself breathing a little more easily. As I removed small fences, dismantled barriers and boundaries that compartmentalized my garden I found that my life to became less divided and it flowed a little easier.
I was able to decide to leave a job that required me to be getting up at 0430hours and get home at 2200 hours. I was burned out and exhausted, so was my garden. I made small steps that later became larger in terms of a deep dive into self-care over this past summer (more on this in another post)
I was also inspired by Mary Reynolds activism on part of our wild earth. “We are The Ark” is a movement created by Mary http://marymary.ie/
“This is a call to step up and re assess our management of every individual tiny patch of the earth possible. It’s a call to the guardians of the earth to step forward and make themselves known, to raise their voices. We need to help the natural world and not hinder it. We have to invite nature and wildness back into our gardens, parks and every tiny patch of this earth we can. To create sanctuary, food and habitat for the creatures we are supposed to share this planet with and who in return will help us survive here within a truly natural and beautiful environment.
It’s up to each of us to re-wild our world, piece by piece until we have a patchwork quilt of sanctuaries that wraps its way around the globe.” Mary Reynolds
So I allowed my garden, back and front to just do its thing and return to the wild. The only thing I do is to trim back the brambles that would completely take over if I didn’t.
My front garden looked beautiful during the summer with abundant selfheal and clover and plantain and dog daisy. Now it’s a bit rangy and hay like.
All sorts of mysterious happenings have occurred in my back garden. I have Comfrey popping up everywhere allowing me a small harvest for healing salves. Saint Johns Wort is also making its presence known as is Lemon balm and Ladies Mantle.
But back to my Rosemary plant; My Rosemary for a few years had barely survived, lurching half scalded from one year to the next suddenly this year has burst forth, festooned this summer in pale blue she has rocked the wild garden in deep green plump needle leaves and she has stretched her strong branches out to her sides and risen her head high. I see her free, taking up space and allowing the life force of the garden to live through her. I see her rise and thrive and fill the space that is her birthright.
With Rosemary I truly remembered.