Natural Instinct

It’s funny how easily one can forget that one is not in any way in-charge of the garden. We can plan, design, prepare, plant and go about all the factors in creating and maintaining our gardens but really, we are rank amateurs in the grand scheme of horticultural mastery. Nature reigns supreme.

Whilst I’ve been away, despite my absence and consequential neglect, my garden has come through just admirably. It’s true that some matters like watering and having someone to stop by and check on things were addressed but in reality, a garden is pretty much on its own when the gardener is absconding. In our hubris, we imagine all sorts of calamities that could happen. Stuff that we would heroically overcome were they to occur in our presence. The truth is, I could have done very little about the heat wave nor the fierce storms that came through in my absence.

The results of extreme weather are inevitable. Plants in their prime keeling over in the heat, fruits changing their minds about ripening mid-process, low-lying beds in danger of drowning sending beseeching looks for help, roses either wearing cloaks of mildew or looking crispy and dry depending on the cause, are all things that happen. But, none of these things are actually in a gardener’s control. For the most part, we simply deal with the problems as they occur.

Given the undeniable fact that the climate is changing, its virtually impossible to predict what conditions to anticipate and mitigate. So, we try to take a broad in-case-of approach. In case it rains, lets do this, in case its too dry lets do that. We don’t really know!

And that’s what I did too. It’s pretty much what any gardener does. We loftily aim to preserve intact every single plant in the garden but it’s all a big gamble really.

Here’s a sample of what actually happened –

A sudden increase in the neighborhood’s rabbit population led to the demise of the squash plants that I was growing as an experiment – it was to be a groundcover that also supplied the summer menus. Its a groundcover all right. The flowers are serving the rabbits.

Several small pots corralled into a bigger container for easier watering became a buffet for slugs due to the high volume of rainwater that could not drain away fast enough. The slugs were mighty ravenous.

The espalier has seen a growth spurt and looks desperately in need of a good summer trim.

Predictably, the weeds have been most happy. They have thrived and spread.

Squirrels took care of all the ripening apples and pears. That’s right. The rascals left nothing.

And that was about it in damage assessment.

Meanwhile, everything else looks just lovely. All that pre-travel fretting, during-travel worrying and returning-home anxiety was a complete waste.

When, oh when, will I learn.

(c) 2023 Shobha Vanchiswar

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