Challenge 2: A tight budget (Part II)


Many of these herbs–in a strip of garden beneath my kitchen window–I inherited from friends when they left Aberdeen.

This continues the series I have been doing on the three challenges of my garden.  This is Part II of the second challenge.  You can read Part I of the challenge of a tight budget here where I explain how narrow constraints (like a tight budget), are often helpful for the creative process.

Another “upside” I have found to having a tight budget is that the most cost-effective option has often bought with it the added bonus of friendship or community, not to mention a sense of legacy.  The other day I was on the bus with my two kids and we had a few short but pleasant interactions with an elderly couple sitting behind us.  When they went to get off the bus, I realised that they belonged to a garden we walked by almost daily.  I quickly confirmed, “you have the beautiful garden on the corner, don’t you?”  She replied, “well, I don’t know about beautiful, but it certainly gives us a lot of pleasure”.  The bus door was almost open when she walked back to say to me, “you must come and get some plants from us”.

Like other making/creative communities, the gardening world is full of people who simply can’t stop sharing information or resources.  Gardening is often a solitary and meditative activity, but I have also found connection with many people who have the same passion–this is why community gardens and allotments are so wonderful.  And, ahem, gardening blogs.  I am looking forward to visiting this couple soon, not just for the plants (in many ways, that is secondary), but because getting to know them, even to a small degree, will “lively up” our regularly walk down the hill.

I like to think that many gardeners are generous with their information and resources because their gardens have taught them to be.  Gardens often provide for us without stinginess.  When a plant does well, it can be prolific and in many cases, it pays for a gardener to share the love.  Plant division needs to happen to maintain plant health, and if there is no room or place for the divided extras, why not just give them away?  Our gardens are living, breathing organisms, and there is nothing to be gained when we hoard or stockpile plants and seeds when we don’t have room or the right spot for them.  They will die, go to waste, or require more work than what they return.

I have clear memories of the journey home from my grandparents’ place, tucking my feet up above a bucket of root cuttings and divided plants from their garden, to be replanted in my parents’ garden.  Years after my grandparents’ deaths, a couple of these plants remain.  If I lived in New Zealand, I wonder if cuttings from these would be in my garden too?  There is something beautiful about looking out to your garden and remembering the legacy that is out there.  I have a similar feeling when I look out over the plants I have bought inexpensively from plant sales at the Botanic Gardens or at church fairs, or when I have been able to share with others.  There is a place and a people behind those plants and it helps me to feel a little more grounded in this land.  Indeed, the most memory-rich plants are the ones I have received most inexpensively.

So I am going to write one more part on this challenge of having a tight budget.  You can read about the first challenge (one of design) here and here.




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