Thursday, April 8, 2010

An Acquired Taste: An Appreciation of Gardening

I'm older than I was. Older than most reading this post I presume, and increasingly so. And as the saying goes, "Better an empty flat than a bad tenant." which is apt because... I...

My mistake. The saying is "The older you are, the wiser you become." which of course doesn't take into account the development of dementia and senility in the elderly or C-grade celebrities (I'm looking at you Lohan!). The saying infers that the arrival of wisdom happens only after you're old enough to not have fun with it. "Ignorance is Bliss" is another phrase that comes to mind, which, when consumed together, means that as you get older, you may get wiser, but you won't be happier. That's a bit of a downer, innit? I should have never even started this paragraph...

The original reason for staggering down this path like an AT-ST covered in ewoks is that I've come to appreciate certain things in life that I never thought I would. While bumbling through life has been fun, I'm now in the position to sit up, meekcat-like, and observe things around me for what they are. And whether I can eat them.

An Appreciation of Gardening.

I've never had any luck with plants. I have the opposite of a green thumb, whatever that is. Many people think that the brown thumb is the opposing digital accompaniment, but that's not true. The brown thumb is the sign of a "yes man".

Not only have I had no luck with plants, I've never understood the need for gardening. What is the point of gardening? Something to show where the dead grass finishes? Somewhere to stick all those objects d'art that your grandchildren give you for your birthday? A pet equivalent for less mobile animal lovers?

There were always aspects of gardening that I enjoyed. For example: pruning. There's nothing like hacking and slashing at overgrown behemoths to resurrect that little English explorer in Africa in all of us. Sure, there's less pith helmets, but also less dysentery, so it's a fair balance.

And apart from pruning, I always enjoyed...

No. That's about it.

Until now.

For the most part, I have to credit Stephanie, exquisite partner of mine, for my new-found appreciation of gardening. She liked gardening, despite my objections, and when she got a job at Bulleen Art & Garden, the knowledge she picked up only increased her enjoyment. She began requesting garden beds to be built, which my limited handyman prowess provided. Eventually.

Plus, we got to eat the (literal) fruits of our labour. Tomatoes mainly, but like the gateway drug of the gardener, that perked my interest. From there we've experimented with beans, peas, asparagus, strawberries, herbs, passionfruit, lemons, olives, capsicum, spring onions and more, with varying degrees of success.

But I now look forward to getting into the garden on weekends. I plant trees instead of just cutting them down. I turn compost (we have four compost bins now, because you just can't get enough apparently) and tend the worm farm. I watch gardening shows. I know what iron chelate is.

I finding myself wishing we had a bigger block, not so we could extend the house, but so we could add more garden.

Why the turnaround? Possibly that fact that things lived. Rather than being the Voldemort to the Harry Potted, I've become the Dumbledore, except less gay, but with the same bad taste of headwear.

Also, getting something back from the plants is conducive to wanting to continue the friendship. Sure, a flower is pretty, but can you cook them into a pasta sauce? Yes you can, but it would taste a bit shit. But tomatoes are a different story. In fact, you can pick them off and eat them on the spot, particularly cherry tomatoes, which almost beg to be eaten like something out of Alice in Wonderland, or a particularly vocal porn star.

To a lesser degree, I suspect it also has to do with owning our house, rather than renting. "Putting down roots" makes a lot more sense now. I think the transient nature of renting doesn't compel people to spend more than cursory time on their gardens, but once it's yours, it is an extension of who you are. Thus you want something you can be proud of. (Yes, I ended the sentence with a preposition. The grammarticulate can waggle their fingers, but "Thus you want something of which you can be proud." sounds like a toss.)

I hope that our gardening efforts will rub off on our girls, that maybe they'll have more of an interest in where their food is coming from, other than the supermarket. Having the herb garden outside the front door certainly helps.

We're not exactly gonna be hosting an Open Garden in the near future, but I like to think that we'll continue to invest time and effort in the garden and see appropriate results.

And that's the crux of it: Not only am I willing to spend time and effort in the garden, I actually enjoy it. Who'd have thought?

I guess you could say that gardening is... growing on me?

I wouldn't, because ending with a shitty Dad joke is lame.

So I'll just say... gardening: it's an acquired taste.

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