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  • Writer's pictureMBP

Gardening under lockdown (by someone who hasn’t a clue)

Before lockdown I always thought I didn’t know how to keep a plant alive. That I had missed our on the gardening gene from my mother, with her strawberries and veggies and flowers in France, and her mother before her with her greenhouse grapes and fruit cage full of berries and butterflies in Yorkshire.

My garden (sunny terrace) in Madrid was a bleak wilderness where nothing was growing at all.

In confinement for weeks, then months, I learnt that mostly you just need time, and water, and then some sun - and then that maybe it’s not so difficult....and one day in the midst of all this, I began to start feeling a little like some who ´gardens´.

Safe at home, with nowhere to go; among the hours of home-schooling and dog-walking and child-walking, after the actual real working, and in between cooking and yoga, I went outside more than I had ever done and started planting, starting tentatively with plants and moving onto seeds as I got braver.

Now I go outside onto our terrace first thing in the mornings- which are no longer cold mid-May - and check on my seedlings. I water everything (constantly now, as it’s very hot during the days.) I wander around in the evenings, as my mother does, with a watering can and sometimes with my children, checking the day´s progress and the shoots which have popped up.

As of this week (Week 10 of lockdown) I have managed not to kill three splendid jasmine climbers, an infant cherry tree in a huge pot (that I bought as a stick in February which is now lush and green and which I’ve already had to re-pot once) and a magnolia tree (ditto), that will look perfect in about 30 or 40 years I should think.

There will be climbing nasturtiums soon and the sweet peas are already tall and flowering. I have a lavender plant that I thought was dead, enormous mint plants with huge lime green leaves perfect for homemade minty lemonade, and numerous baby chile plant seedlings, probably far too many for the space or the number of pots I actually possess.

I even have about 20 baby watermelon plants ...but not, however, the space for 20 baby watermelons.

There is still a lot I don’t know, (most of it) but I do know that one sweet pea can smell more fragrant in the early morning than a whole wall of jasmine might smell in the evening, and that freshly cut mint smells just as good if not better.

But most of all I learned that there is a calmness and peaceful happiness to be found among my plant pots amid corona panic, and, as confinement eases a little on Monday, I’m glad to have had the time to start being a gardener in my own small city space.

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